THE STARFISH

This is not about Christmas. It is not about Christianity. It is not about reality, nor about any religion, nor any person. Rather this is an investigation, a poem, into the principle of father/son, a male relationship of such overwhelming power that it reduces the woman to being only a cradle, a nipple, a means to an end.

The little boy said, “I wish I could be a mother. I wish I had a baby.”

They say Jehovah told Abraham to take his son up on the mountain and kill him — not abandon him like Oedipus, because Oedipus (whose name means he-who-limps because he was pinioned by the ankle when he was abandoned on the mountain) came back to murder his father and marry his mother. “Take a knife and cut his guts out. Burn them on my altar.” Jehovah was the father of everything, the only Father, the only God, the infinity and the inscrutable. The overwhelming and the source of everything.

The little boy lived with his mother, nourished and cherished.

Let’s call the mother Moon, the wife of Sun. Let’s call the son Star.

Then his father came back. Maybe he was a ship captain. Maybe he was a ship. Maybe he was the sea. He was an engulfment. He wrapped and penetrated the woman, became a storm that knocked her across the room, left her bloody and gasping. “You will have no other gods than me.” She drowned. He turned to the son. It was Star’s turn to be engulfed, wrapped, penetrated, violated, torn to bloody ribbons, emptied.

The Sun wished no rivals. He wished Star to be a belonging, an extension, a simulacrum that would extend and perpetuate him. His lips became tender, his eyes were soft, his hands stroked the pearly boyskin until Star was aroused, and then Sun flayed Star with ecstasy again. To own him. He had created him and he owned him. He could kill him and he could bring him back to life even as the blood drooled from his knife.

Star was often insensate. When he could, he hated his father. He loved his father. He yearned for the disembowelment, but puked with fear. He wished to be exactly like his father; he wished to destroy his father; he swore he would never ever be his father. He looked in the mirror, hoping to be his father. When he saw he was — a little bit — he smashed the mirror.

Sun was Life, the very principle, the goal of existence. Star only wandered. He began to think and drew up ideas from the sea as though they were fishes, using strategies to find them, cooking them on sticks in sandy beach fires. He grew, but as he grew he became more like Sun and didn’t like it. He ached and cramped. Where the sand was wet he used his stick to write and draw, but the Sea was the Sun’s mirror and wiped it all away with foam.

“Life is torture.” Ssssssssssso? “There is no meaning.” Yessssssssss.

“I wish to be only me.” A million sea birds descended to tear him to bits while a million newborn turtles burst up from the sand and desperately scurried for the sea, which ate them. (Well, the sea birds did.) He was nothing. He was a blood smear.

He learned to walk and was careful to do it only when the Sun slipped down, down, to where He could not see and there were a million stars. “Ssssssssstarssssssss.” He left footprints in the sand and then he turned inland.

What happened to him then, among the humans, I do not know. They didn’t know what to make of him either. “You are a victim of abuse,” announced some. “You were torn apart by love,” said others. “You’re a fake,” laughed the scornful small ones. They were all men. He didn’t know women.

“You are very ssssspecial,” said a soothsayer, “because you are your Father but you can transform. You need not destroy. You can learn to protect, to create. This is a transformation, a mutation, a transcendence. You are illuminated, but also shadowed with darkness that burnsssss like fire. It will always be like that.”

“We will love you, but you will turn that away, because it’s small, meaningless, just more fish.”

Star began to walk on. Then paused.

“One more thing. Soon the moon will rise. It won’t stay, but for a while . . . you will feel what your father felt, but you will not consume the moon — only embrace it as it emptiesssss.”

That might be the end of the story. Maybe not.

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