You Burn Me

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You Burn Me

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By JASON ROSENBERG
Contributing Writer
Published: September 19, 2012

 

(Inspired by Sappho’s fragment, “singeing us”)

 

What is it about the summertime?

Your name has gotten too big for my mouth.

Every time I say it, I have to smile to get it out.

I don’t know what I’ve come to expect from this life, but I’m happy…

I’m just happy. I suppose I have you to thank.

I suppose there’s a point where you stop needing to cherish and protect yourself.

Because the only thing worth protecting is what you’re the most careless with,

When it comes down to it. I have nothing left, but it’s yours if you want it.

I don’t want to be gold anymore. I want to be flesh. I want to be yours.

I want to be a white cow, unmarred by blemishes.

Born in a white, marble stable next to the temple of Aphrodite.

I want men to look at me and ache with hunger and

Women to look at me and fall in love and go mad

and want to bear my child and hide it in a maze.

I want them all to beg for me and beg at me.

And I will just laugh.

And they will tear at their clothes and their faces and beat their chests.

And curse you. And curse me.

And you will look down on me and want to know what I smell like on a spit over a fire.

And one day, one sacred night, they will lead me to your temple,

a parade in your honor, and grass will grow in front of us as they dance and sing you hymns

and I will laugh and stride on, ready, so ready.

And they will bring me to the most sacred room,

all white, no contours or contrast, one white space

and there they will lay me down and split me open,

all red, color at last in this white mausoleum,

and tell our future in my entrails,

and then they will take a knife to my throat and all that will be there is your name

and they will rip it out, a river of our secrets and my laugh,

and they will fill mason jars and coffee cans and water cooler jugs and deer skeins and sacred vases and baptize their children and heal their sick and mourn their dead

with the nights we lay plastered in sweat, breathing through our mouths,

and even with all that, all they will see is brilliant red blood, pouring out of me in a river.

And then, when you smell it, you will come at last,

And everything will catch fire, sped up, excited by your beauty

And they will burn. And I will burn away all the parts of me that aren’t us,

and all the while in this giant, sacred, burning oven, all I will feel is the nights we spent

plastered with sweat and breathing through each other’s mouths as you burn me.

And I will smile.