Anathema, Apotheosis

by johannespunkt

[Trigger warning: suicidal ideation]

You didn’t quite learn the right definition. The dictionary lacks the venom of it, the way it rises in your throat like the coming tide. But as you know, we take words and we make them our own. There is no such thing as language but there are a thousand tongues. And you swore at a young age that you would never become a god, not like this, not ever. Still the thought burned like a slow fuse in your periphery, leaving black lines along the perimeter of your eyes. There is nothing good about being a god: it is not like you sat around and fantasized about temples in your honour and the exquisite pain of four extra arms growing out from your torso. Although you do know how the sockets of such a skeleton would work with the ribs and when you were anxious you drew thin pink lines on your skin. You don’t bruise easily and that makes you a favourite. The fuse keeps burning. Every morning after you’ve not slept, you wipe the soot out of your eyes. There is so much soot in you still, you told yourself. This is good: when you stop having candles to burn you’re out of luck and out of time. So you picked it up from a broadcast half between two radio stations and in your childish mind you heard it as two words: “this is an athema to them.” You picture it as a kind of antithesis for someone’s character, a kryptonite, something not just forbidden but centrally taboo. Ontologically speaking, if I do this, I cease to be me. The dictionary does not corroborate your story but that’s how you feel about the word, and your usage is consistent with how everybody says it. That’s what your apotheosis would be, something you defined yourself against. And then there were the mandalas painted on the pavement on your way to school or work or tennis club. You took careful steps around them, but tried to make it seem like you just switched directions twice in rapid succession in a V. That’s how you cross the street, you look away and wait until the street is empty. You cannot live in a city anymore. There are too many places accidentally made sacred and you know that the people need faith. You cannot become their god. It is a process that involves cutting off your head and replacing it with the head of a statue of you. That is why all the statues of you left out in the countryside have no head anymore, so that any one of them could carry your real head. But you say: this is not me. And you define yourself around this concept until you have enveloped it entirely. Now this is you, some form of bent knife in hand, a basket in your lap, burning ember at your heels. Come on then, do something with your symbolism. Make it all alright. Ascend but let your bare feet full of light stay grounded and walk around headless in the fisherman’s village, won’t you? Let, as ever, those parts die. Let the fancy quotes from the diaries of men who were buried ten years after they died rest. Let the burning ropes of red sun from between your toes slither up and around your ankles.

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