A PRAYER FOR CATATONIA
You have once imagined this apartment as a tomb. You walk around sullen and organless, crossing the rooms at odd angles. At night you feel your insides melting at your feet and evaporating. And every morning feels like a cliff calling to you.
You roll over. You sleep in fits with a pillow against your face.
You have been told about this train we’re on a long time ago. Barreling toward an unseen ravine, the future.
The arrow of time said, progress! is a bedtime story for kids with perfect attendance and kids who never seen the inside of a courtroom. Health and Happiness is an elevator you missed by birthright. It’s been said that you will always live for labor and crumbs and half-homes, half-lives in fear of being torn away from the scraps of love and safety you was thrown as a forgotten, street thing. And that you and your friends will always be running, running, ahead of the lawman and the landlord and the boss and the Mother and the Father.
You will wake and sit delirious and sleepless in the deep of the dark morning by the south-facing window, wondering why nothing or no one you touch out there ever stays with you, in here. And why you always end up by yourself in the nights and the mornings. Alone on this freight train, barreling with just see-through memories, and the terror of your own thoughts.
A few times you were brought, or you brought yourself, or you were called, or pulled, to the end of the line. So you know what it means to decelerate. It’s become tradition for you, head on collision with Void—barreling into brick walls from young.
All those times, something about you scrambled for a root on the way down to grab onto and hang on to. Something about that shrinking skylight as you plunged had you digging your fingers into the clay, blood all dripping down your wrists. This ain’t it boo.
God shared a secret with a prophet you met in a strip mall church in Delaware one time, when you was fourteen and things were locked up in you like a fireproof safe. When you was a little automaton prone to freezes and glitches and constriction. God told the prophet you’d stay hard to kill,
but you didn’t hear Her.
You know now there’s hard work in catatonia, stillness, in inhabiting tombs and tomb-shaped space. Any haunt, any good one, any black hole knows the pain of tending pain, the call to work the aches til they’re all you have. To rest is not to be dead.
When you jumped this Arrow, you stayed looking over your shoulder for the rot of birth and colony and genocide. Stayed looking back so long, you never noticed you been living, growing older. This apartment was a womb this whole time, and you been gestating.
Spent so much time living in disbelief, living like a fugitive on time you thought you stole. And you think this is why the things I love slip between my fingers. Half-dead, who could even see me? Or want me?
On this dark morning, it will occur to you that perhaps time is not a weapon, but a thickness of fabrics, some layers gauzy and porous, others a maze of brocade and knit. Perhaps you are not a fugitive, but a lighthouse. All the ones you almost were are not lost. They buoy along your shores.
Then the early morning sun will reach into that south facing window and fill your gaze with light. You have never seen something so beautiful as the possibility of a new day, the raw radiation of space, and the machinations of perception that allow you to feel this Star’s cool winter heat.
May you live for one moment in utter stillness, root into the armchair like a monument. Invite warmth, you stone.
May the soldiers march past your quiet chrysalis, mistaking you for shrapnel and refuse.
May you live against the Empire with rest and joy in the time you have taken for yourself.
May you release the false binaries of Death and Life, and remember you are ever becoming, however catatonic.