Let’s make this clear: I do not want to die.
I don’t—I want to live, and live again
like I remember living as a child
in stories that I tell myself about
myself. To live that childlike life again—
not like the lonely dead, reduced
to mewling hunger past the fence of life—
I must then be reborn, and shoulder off
this chrysalis of pain and dirt
to fly, ephemeral and brief—
“you don’t get long!” cry damselflies—
to burn in speed and colour out across
that briefest gloried moment:
a meteor, a cricket ball, a sun.
To be reborn, then, I must die in part,
and so I split myself in two and choose
the one which will be Abel (brother, ghost)
to take the trip across the fence and back,
with knowledge as his hunger, for his prize.
He’ll whisper his learnings to Cain
whose knife becomes a hollow reed for Abel’s ink
so red upon the pages of the real;
the wisdom will make madness out of Cain,
a madness that transmutes him (once again)
through pain and self-inflicted guilt,
the loneliness of one who eats the truth,
who knows he’ll die—
who knows where all the bodies lie,
asleep, for now, but not forevermore.
No, not forever; Cain will bring them back
to life, as Abel’s ink dries red to black
on desert sand like parchment in the sun,
becoming glass, becoming purified,
his data stripped to bytes of bits, ideograms
afloat above uncanny whiteness, screaming through
that world of worlds we’ve built within the world
which still we do not understand in full,
though myth can guide our Abel through the dark:
in grubby paperbacks or cyberspace,
the maps are there—but don’t describe the place.
I split myself, like DNA unzipped,
still potent with the blueprint for the whole.
I kill myself, my brother, let him bleed.
I touch the blood, and whisper for the gods.
[ An old piece, circa 2011, recently unearthed from electronic archives; the accompanying notes say it was inspired by Margaret Attwood’s Negotiating With The Dead, and I have no reason to doubt them. ]