The Holiness of Degradation

The Holiness of Degradation


with a title and a line from Leslie Jamison

Anne says, what if you are not
sick or bad, what if you are Katie?

I know I have to fuck
the stories that are fucking me.

I think about the writer who spoke of “despair
that remains curious about the world, thirsty

for justice and company…” and what it would mean
to keep myself company in this hateful hour. Accompany

myself into hell, knowing that even in hell
there is singing. The most beautiful singing.

My dog noses over my body to find a warm
pained spot for her cold nose. It is dark tonight.

Many hours of the night await me.
It will not be enough to be good, Katie. You must be

something you haven’t created yet. To think you know
anything of what you are is a laugh. To think you know

anything! Like sitting in a Quaker meeting house
and wishing Dorothy would shut the fuck up and then

you wake up and realize Dorothy is holding the oars
that are rowing you to god, and god’s universe is thick

with the good black rot that means something will grow
again. If you can only… Stay with me here, don’t leave.

                                                                          This moment
is safe if we don’t think about the next,
this holy room Dorothy let me into before

she died and took the oars with her.
I’m trying to stay in the boat

though I am beside myself.
I am trying to be

beside myself. Look, she doesn’t
have enough strength yet. But the boat

is big enough for two. The boat is patient
for what it wants, holy nothing rolling forever.

Her arms are not strong enough for oars,
but she’ll try her voice and see where that takes her.

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