paradise is bright white: hospital
lights and linoleum corridors;
paradise is bright white like a night sky
so packed with stars
even the greatest navigator wouldn’t see
his own fingers moving before his eyes.
“white is purity,” they chant, “white is clean,”
white burns your eyes like a billion suns—
white mocks you, taunts you;
reflects your sins like clear water.
God created humans in his own image (you know; you were there):
but had they always looked so beautiful?
creatures so certain they were bereft of sin;
they burned too—so differently from God, yet so lovely—
like stars, exhausting themselves to the point of death.
you see the red string of fate
and give silent thanks to Prometheus.
you stand oin an open field, night on your bare skin—
two lashes of fire down your back, skin
crumbles to ash:
your tongue a hunk of magma, saliva
molten lava in your mouth,
blisters, burns, cover your lips, like
black spots on a dalmatian:
and the Devil descends and captures your mouth in His—
bites down on your lower lip, hard enough to leave a scar—
slides His hand between your ribs:
you breathe and it feels
like the first you’ve ever taken.
and the Devil runs His tongue over your charred lips
His fingers over your singed cheeks
and He calls you beautiful.
you’re in a graveyard. on your knees
tears pool in the crescent scars on your cheeks
you carved with your own fingernails; mixing with blood
that splatters onto the dirt, swallows
it like an offering
and you grin; one that splits your lips
so you taste that metallic red stuff
smiling like the world is ending (and it is)
and you’ve never felt more alive.
what’s that taste? like strawberries and skin and
the ice-cold steel of a sharpened blade;
fire and brimstone; like a love that fades, still
heavy on your tongue—
it tastes like victory.
there you are.
on the ground, surrounded by
the white shrapnel of that fragile scaffolding;
your fingers meet the ruined flesh
that was, once upon a time, your heart
and the splintered shards of your bygone ribcage
a choked, ruined noise of mirth.
paradise has never been bright white;
paradise has never been the sterile purity
of hospital lights or linoleum corridors.
the blood slithers up your esophagus like bile,
a crimson miasma that steals the air from your lungs;
a razor blade across your lips and cheek, gashing and
paradise is this;
humans have known paradise their entire lives.