consubstantiation

Cold, then colder. Barefoot in the zendo, shush of feet on the hardwood floors. No birdsong in the dawn, foretelling rain. Trashtruck dumptruck rattling up the street, somebody’s gotta do it, hear the bang of the lids, the shouts of the burly men. Imagine they are burly, on the cushion, eyes closed in the half-sleep, half-wake of meditation. Open. Close. The heart banging like a pair of heels drumming a floor, a toddler, someone’s kid, kicking against the rungs of a chair, maybe laid out with legs up a wall and pounding tiny heels into the wallpaper. Floral. Or stripes. No wainscoting. Point was, heart is banging. Poor tired heart, poor thing of flesh that can be crushed but not broken, said he, I want to stay grounded in biology, he said. Oh but the heart it can shatter, it can indeed be crushed like the tomatoes that come in cans and we add to sauces, porkchops Italiano, that meal Mom would make when we were kids. The heart. Up into the dawn hours, that second watch of the night, sleep so thin and unsatisfying, woke with a heart banging with exhaustion and that last 10 pm cup of coffee. I think the heart can break. I have no evidence of that to put in your textbook. Cold, then colder. The wooden clappers. When we swam there was this moment when the long, undulating ribbon of motion would break in the air as we surfaced. Shift. A different momentum. A sense of having been interrupted. How slow and patient was the heavy bent-light blue of water, and our bodies within it, all that otherworldly water-patience interrupted when we broke in froth and oxygenated fury. That’s those clappers, snap-clap-crack, the surface of meditation and the breath broken with a gasp. Life-giving breakage of each breath. Hours later, stepping out of the house, it was cold. Then colder, day the color of raw uncarded wool, or the milky quartz striating the rocks washed up off Puget Sound. Seattle. White when dry, thickly grayish when wet. The inside of the heart is at least a bit dampish, even at its worst, I hope, I don’t like to remember the days when the heart felt like desert sand, when it was cold as a dawn hearth in winter. Scraping out the flying ashes and flakey charcoal of the night before, scraped out, hollow, cold. Crushed charcoal for a heart, can you imagine, there would be nothing to take in your hands and squeeze, no, nothing to mold like a piece of bread pinched off and rolled into a ball before being popped into a mouth. The world chews, hearts are crushed. Wash us with a bit of that sanctified wine, you there, we are consubstantiated, there is both the mortal fleshy heart and that thing, that shattered broken luminous thing, banging like a lover on the door, like wings against air.

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7 comments on “consubstantiation

  1. sharatbuddhavarapu says:

    Poor tired heart, poor thing of flesh that can be crushed but not broken, said he, I want to stay grounded in biology, he said.

    This poem took a while to get going for me, but that line is liquid gold. And that last sentence… the reference to some passer-by (or maybe an actual priest) to wash the speaker in sanctified wine and the sound of wings beating the air. Lovely prose-poem. Keep up the good work!

    • seon joon says:

      The slow start to this reflects the slow start the day had; I was working on inhabiting the pace of the day in words. Thank you for your feedback!

  2. Kevin Kim says:

    I hear the ghost of Kerouac. He would have given this a marvelous recitation.

    • seon joon says:

      Hmm, Kerouac! I’ve not read a lot of him, so this is a surprising comparison for me, if only because it would have been unintentional on my part. I did read this out loud, and it was fun–not a lot of what I write works with language so obliquely (I usually think of Gertrude Stein or James Joyce afterward) and the greater attention I pay to rhythm shows when I read it out loud.

  3. […] In response to Via Negativa: The Decider and thus: consubstantiation. […]

  4. […] In response to thus: consubstantiation. […]

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