Jacob - The King of Ash
Bad things happen when a woman takes you into her heart out of pity. But all I knew a month ago was that when Maggie rolled away from me in bed it felt like the sun going down. And me, I was just the dark opening up to receive her. Unrolling the black carpet for her dreams. A ribbon of asphalt waiting for a bloom to land. Something beautiful it could not grow of its own accord. The type of woman a man like me can never sustain.
She's got a walk. The whole city white as a bride. She's a tall woman with a face like a blade. I wore myself out. Wore myself down just trying to keep up.
One day you look up from the dry of the riverbed and realize it's so much farther from the bottom to the top than you ever imagined. And you've gone and left yourself no way back up. I raise my eyes to the canyon walls and navigate the strata of memory. The bands of color. Yellow, at the top for my mother. Soft pink, like the inside of a conch shell for the first woman to ever take me into her bed. Then a broad maroon stripe. A band of blood, lipstick on a washcloth. That's my Maggie. A lone December rose when you have suffered so long for the evidence of color.
Bad things happen. Because in the end, when you are at the bottom looking up you realize that you always knew, that her love was a borrowed thing, a loan come due. God never intended the muse for the illiterate mute. God only intends love like hers for men who will turn it into the strength to do great things. Men who will strive in the light of it until they reach God's intent.
Sometimes, you love with all you have and in the end you've only been keeping the seat warm for somebody else. She was feeling hopeful, and I was there. There would have been nothing to love in me otherwise.
At the intersection of South East 39th and Belmont there is a door. On the door it says, "Nothing to be Gained HERE." In black spray paint. "Nothing to be gained here," that's my Maggie all over. That's the problem with Maggie, she's all over.
The sky is a blue cruelty like her eyes. I hate the sun and I hate the moon. I hate the clouds. Maggie on her back calling up what she sees in them. The pictures she finds. I hate God for giving and I hate God for taking away. I hate the stars. I hate everything she walks across that takes her from me. I hate the shower that sees her naked. I hate the man she gives herself to. I hate it all except for Maggie.
Maggie - this love will never come undone.
She's who I pray to.
"Maggie can you find me. Maggie can you help me. Maggie can you see clear."
She is a divine entity. She's something else. She's someone else's. She's both the ladder you climb and the rope you hang yourself with.
"All things in moderation except for love."
Once in a great while a woman comes along who changes everything you know of God. Leap of faith that forces you to cast off all your spiritual possessions, in the hope that you will become light enough to cross the divide without bridge or wings.
Just Beware - because it won't be the fall that breaks what you know of God. It will be what catches you.
Once in a while, a woman comes along who burns down the kingdom but leaves you the throne. You come undone. You own nothing, not even yourself anymore. Nothing but what she gives you and so you sing. You sing her praises. She loves you as God does so you sing His praises too.
"Do you know what you give a man who has everything he wants? You give him what he needs."
"God's castle built on the back of love. Raised ever skyward on wing-bound hearts. The burden of love is to be true to it. And do you know what blue is the color of? The prism of sky through your fingers when you cover your face with your hands to laugh, or to cry, or to grieve. The sky never falls, the sky never fails. Without love the heart is just another member of the ticking choir, a metronome."
"You have to break what you know to learn something new. To define the beliefs you can't live without. The ones you Choose. Not the ones inherited or learned in the absence of Grace. I don't want to steal from you. I just want to knock from your back what you don't need to carry anymore."
Then she's pulling her nightgown over her head.
" I am a woman and you are a man. My relationship w/ God is different than yours. Batter my heart ye three-personed God. An alpha roll of Faith taking hold. Pinning my pulse to the pavement. I am speaking His name in the dirt. My blood vibrating with a low, moaning note that springs the tuning fork inside my breast. My lips against the soil. O Mi Dios. Batter my heart."
Maggie prays: "This weakness in me. This ability to choose the wrong things. I offer this weakness in me. Use it for Your window. Rapunzel? Rapunzel. . . I throw down my yellow rope of hair. I have but one window, use it for your door. Pull me through the keyhole. Pull me through the eye of the needle and break off the thread of my need with your teeth. Break everything in me that does not bend. Batter. My. Heart."
Once in a while a woman comes along who changes everything you know of God.
Maggie's God has always been an old God. One who pulled a virgin against Him in the night. Used a brand of magic called miracle. Her God cares naught for the messenger, only that The Word gets out, reaches its intended party.
"Don't shoot the messenger. Who are you to decide where He is and where He isn't? Who He would and wouldn't use? God has no roof. He doesn't knock his head against any kind of ceiling until He comes to your house.
If you asked Lucifer what he was, he would tell you that he was an angel. Don't you think Heaven gets so lonely without The Bringer of Light? Don't you think God misses the way it used to be? Don't you think the Devil misses the sound of God's voice? Lucifer doesn't dream of over-throwing the Kingdom of Heaven. He only dreams of coming home again. More evil has been done in the name of God than that of the Devil. Revenge is the Devil's reproduction."
My Maggie - bend or she will break you. Spiral you heavy into the pavement. Paper airplane rocked by the weight of her dreams against the wings. Bend or bad things happen.
" Ever seen a soul leave the body? Ever broken a toy so no one else could play with it? Ever killed what you love? Ever. Killed?"
My Maggie, the murdering saint. The Queen of Spades, Eater of Hearts, Mother of Muses. No one has ever owned Maggie.
" If he was a real man, I couldn't have broken him."
And I wonder. What it was that God saw in Mary. Did He look down and sight her drawing water at the well? Was there a thud inside His chest like the other shoe dropping? Did He feel for the first time the beating of His own heart? God didn't want, couldn't have ever wanted the son, knowing how it would be in the end.
Volumes written against her body, volumes pulled from her womb. This woman drawing water from a well, dressed in Blue God's Desire. And yet. He sent an angel. Same as He did for war, for punishment against man, against His creation. I think it broke Him to see them together, because God can't turn His back. He has to watch everything.
I think it caused a kind of crazy inside Him. To Love, to understand the taste of want for the first time, and have to send an angel. Makes you wonder if there isn't something bigger than God making Him sorry. Punishing His desire. The first beat of His heart that defined Him. Something bigger than God.
What if Mary had said, "No." What if she had said, "No, Baby. You'll only hate yourself in the morning."
Is that how a woman is to love a God? What does God have a soft spot for? A woman who takes away your power and then gives it back? Holds it just long enough for you to know the sweet release.
If she had turned Him down, do you think that they would have been blessed by something bigger? That He could have come to her then? No angel. Just the virgin pressed to His chest in the night? That there would have been some kind of Holy Happily Ever After and by now we'd all be divine of spirit?
The first time we broke bread together she said, "I have nothing tangible to offer you. Just what you remember, words on paper, and quite possibly regret."
"I am here. I am HERE. I am fulfilling prophecy. I am in the throes of fierce belief. I will show you. I will SHOW you the street value of beauty."
"Do you know that there is something simply spectacular about a man who kisses your hand?"
"Make it a double."
"No thanks, I drank at work."
"Strike while the iron is hot. Ask me Now."
"Sing my praises."
"From your lips to God's ears, sing my Praises. So that He will let me come home again."
She was Immune to my desire. I was just the darkness pulling her under as I knew no other way to love her. If I had thought she was afraid I would have stopped. But Maggie was never afraid. Instead she stood still and watched me set the fire.
Maggie watching me.