pilgrimage

Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.

-Oscar Wilde

The body is where we meet sorrow. It is where we meet everything. Once upon a time, I said to my therapist that I felt like there was a wire cage inside me. I started to wonder: who would I be, without this dark armature of fear? I thought the fear meant there was something wrong with me. I thought the same thing about grief.

I don’t think that anymore. Look around: we are all adrift in a sea of grief. The sea is around us, and also inside us.

Grief lives in my belly. Like an anglerfish, it grows in darkness and pressure. Exposed to light and air, it might explode.

It is an ice pick in the side of my head.

It looks like a tumor, but it’s not a tumor. Not at all.

It is a heaviness, a bowl of fists in my pelvis.

It is a flock of birds startled out of the lake (or they would be, if their feet weren’t frozen into the surface).

It is a heart full of teeth. It is stay-the-fuck-away. It is I-will-eat-your-damn-eyeballs.

It is an unplugged light bulb.

It is a staple in my right shoulder. It goes all the way through.

My heart is a fogged mirror.

My belly is full of nails.

It is innocence guarded by blades and crushing jaws.

It is a tiny skull clawing at my ribs with scrawny green fingers.

It is a scream that unzips my spine. It is my heart chewed open by whatever used to live inside. It is nipples like cheese graters.

At the bottom of the well, it is blue lights strung across a vast darkness. It is an ache, a rash, rubies pushing up through my skin. It is my heart leaping out of my chest at the sight of the Beloved, crying “I consent to be lost.”

Whatever comes next is something I can’t even pretend to understand.