CENOTAPH — Christina Tudor-Sideri

after Disembodied

I have come to know the dirt that
makes me undress of its memory—
something not even death can erase. This creed
embedded on the bone:
rain will fall to wash my body.
With it: the flight of butterflies
summer and winter. The ebb and the flow
the real that was once unreal and from time to time
eternity itself.
There are sentences that roll effortlessly
off the tongues of the dead.
might it be the same as having a memory?
The frame empties. The candle remains
Deformation becomes gesture. The dying
with one last breath
pay their respects to great ideas.
An unending recital that births monster after monster—
deformation becomes gesture and I travel
to where there is no home.
The city maddens.
Its arterial roads
slither through the flesh wherever I go
they twist and twine
and deliver the same old waste at my feet.
Les Lavandières de la nuit
three small women with webbed feet
going to the edge of the river at midnight
to wash shrouds for those about to die.
I worship that which torments me.
A river at the feet of wailers.
How vividly I remember those women
the direction of the brushstrokes
the black clothing
the burning house from where
I could finally see the sky. A transition
to the holy. To be a part of paradise.
as waves are part of the sea.
Rehearsal after rehearsal: the sacred into the secular—
perhaps I was an exegete.
De Nerval was not wrong in saying
his sonnets are hardly more obscure than
Hegel’s metaphysics or Swedenborg’s Memorabilia.
Comfort follows transient pain
hours when I sleep without dreaming.
There is movement
in the innermost dark of my body
movement through which life fights
not to preserve itself but to escape.
There is whiplash from impact. Whiplash
delusion—masking as memory.
To make the lost unlost.
To shout full-throated.
To shout and say I too am everything at once:
rope and thigh
dungeon and voice. I am water
running through your veins
by virtue of blood resemblance.
I fall and rise and fall again
under the guise of reenacting
a bedtime story told by death.
for she loves life so ardently she gives
herself to it through all that is beautiful
through the language of the body
that feels and throbs
and aches and orgasms when
time itself enters me
when it rains and darkness falls and
roots gush from under the skin
and hands are absent.

Christina Tudor-Sideri is a writer and translator living in Eastern Europe. She is the author of Under the Sign of the Labyrinth and the translator of Mihail Sebastian’s Fragments from a Found Notebook and Magda Isanos’s Homecoming, as well as forthcoming volumes by Max Blecher and Ilarie Voronca. Her debut novel, Disembodied, will be published by Sublunary Editions in 2022.