to bear witness

October 9th, 2011 Comments Off

Already the time is here to make public the story of who you are and what you have done.  It may only matter to me, since you do not exist outside the boundaries of my mind.  But you, my precious girl (although only recently have I felt you were precious), have been more influential than many others, and so I am seeing fit to put your story down.  You first came to visit me a little less than six years ago, even though we have known one another since before time was marked – we were conceived and grew together in the misty belly of God.  We were inseparable, one and the same, for seven years.  And then, as you know too well, we were torn apart.  In terror and faced with an unbeatable enemy, I locked you away with Violence and neglected you for years.

Which is why, I suppose, you were so filthy and damaged when you first visited six years ago.  Of course you broke free (thank God) and attempted to reunite.  When you first came, I did not recognize you, and in fact only realized it was you today.  But there you were, still only seven years old, so young while I had aged with each year.  I was terrified of you, could not look at your face.  Your oily black hair was matted, your face was filthy and bruised, your white dress stained and tattered.  I could see you had struggled for years – your fingernails were caked with blood and dirt.  And of course I could not look you in the eye, not only because of my own guilt but because your eyes were not human.  They terrified me and I panicked each time I saw you.  You, persistent as ever, continued to visit me.  Always stopping at the foot of my bed, you came in the night.  In those days, you were furious and your anger made the air thick to breathe.  One day I asked you why you were so angry and you said, “I’ve been locked away.”  At that time, I didn’t have a clue who you were or what you meant.  But still you came and came, and gradually I grew accustomed to you.

A few months ago, I remembered you again and you began to visit with more presence and urgency.  You were again angry, and I realized what had happened.  So long ago, I had locked you up so that a bargain could be made to spare my life.  And when the time came to make good on my end of the agreement, you came to visit so that we could be inseparable again.  After this realization, I was shocked to see that you began to age.  Occasionally, you appeared to be 12 or 13, sometimes 17.  You seemed angry less often, I began to see that fear was the root of your anger.  You came to me at night, still, and asked to lay next to my bed.  Of course I allowed this, not wanting you to feel alone again.

This morning you came to me appearing to be 13, and the fury had taken hold of you again.  You were aflame with anger and I fought the urge to flee, speaking with you instead.  I asked you why you were so angry, and you said, “You left me.”  I spoke to you gently, I held your anger, and I began to wash you.  With a cloth I cleaned your face, and then realized you were much too filthy for just a cloth.  I carried you to the tub, still softly speaking kindness and love to you.  I told you how brave you had been while locked away, and how proud I was.  I bathed you slowly, washing each bit of your dirty body and meticulously cleaning your hair.  As I washed, you began to age.  Your naked body grew into adulthood and took on a strange familiarity.  Suddenly, I realized you were me.  I was washing myself, broken and bruised, until clean and whole again.  We stood up, you and I, and faced one another.  For just a moment, you stepped into me and we were united again.

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