(Viktor Hartmann’s design for the Great Gate of Kiev. The inspiration to the final movement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.)
Have you ever been loved like this? My love for you is like the freezing burn of ice, like the hot wet streak left when it slides out of your hands onto the linoleum. It is a gallon of ice cream shoved to the back of the cold casket when the hills and hollars made by last month’s spoon shimmer with crystals. It is like eating straight from the carton. But first, you must wrap it in a dirty kitchen towel to keep the winter from burning your hands.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock, knocking on the door of the soul (The pulpit man asks if I will let you in). I say, “Sure, be ye then lifted up, ye everlasting doors. Of course. But why are these doors everlasting?” I haven’t had doors in years, just rusted hinges scraping the wind. These walls of mine crumble like wet cardboard. My soul’s causeway is open wide as a grass-covered void. The band is waiting your arrival. Will you enter me? Take possession of what is yours.
The wind blows your voice over the mountains, down from the cell phone towers blinking in the dark distance. It is all I can see, taunting us just beyond the fire. When I turn my head to the left, I hear your voice in the television and in the seven day forecast and the echoes of distant laptops. You haunt me from that beyond. Possess me.
For you, in strange arms do I wait. All of them are strange smiling fools, lesser men with little sad plastic souls. Imposters, really. This fire you started in me warms them. We used the doors for firewood. They play their games around it. I laugh, but they will never know the blessing of my tears. My blessing tears almost crushed you once, even as you held me, but the benediction was on your cheek and I cannot take it back. All they get is a crooked smile, but you—you!—come in, come in!
Come in and let us leave our bodies. Let’s unzip our flesh and wiggle out like newborns of the night. Ascending like children, we will run our fingers through the milk of the sky and watch ripples scatter and splatter to distant galaxies. Let us leave these silly fires, these sad souls, these sane minds for I am a mad man. Yes, I am quite insane, but scorching hoarfrost maketh such. This madness destroys me. Thus, the two are devoured, but the one remaining smiles to greet the dawn. Under his head, he adjusts the pillow at the first blush of morning, before sleeping in until noon. The snore is a sweeter sonnet.