Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, November 29, 2004

Finngering (Dec. 2003)

When the fian are on the brink of the Suir, Culdub comes out of a sid or "elf-mound," and steals their food three times in succession as it is being cooked. On the third occasion Finn ua Baiscne gives chase and catches up with him, and lays hold of him as he goes into the sid. At this point a woman seems to meet him as she is coming out of the sid, with a dripping vessel in her hand, having just distributed drink, and she jams the door against the sid! Finn squeezes his finger (mer) between the door of the sid and the post, and then sticks it into his mouth. When he takes it out again he begins to chant (dicetal). The imbas enlightens him (fortnosmen an imbas) and he recites a series of rhetorics.

-- Nora Chadwick, "Imbas Forasnai"

The moment he is baptised Dylan (twin of Lleu or Lug) makes for the sea and receives the sea's nature, swimming well as any fish, and because of this he is called Dylan Eil Ton, "Sea Son of Wave." No wave ever broke beneath him.

-- Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage

When I was 16 I
visited for a while
a girl from my
Christian youth group
in her parents’
apartment on Lake
Shore Drive while
they were out. We’d
watch TV and eat
chips and fool around
on the couch. Hedged
by youth and faith,
it never went that far;
our motions
were a shifting
barrier island between
how much she’d give
up (an ebbing resolve
to resist) and how much
I would persist in
the next encounter
(waxing against a
fading Christian faith).
God was God, I was
sure, but she was
something more, or
ignited in me heat a
for more, its flame
consecrate to regions
I dared not go, yet
knew somehow I must.
We’d kiss a while in
a milky haze: I’d watch
her kiss me, her eyes
tightly closed, blonde
hair in soft focus, all
else fading in the
watery buzz which
was slowly drowning
us, her lips to mine
like some sea-lock
our bargelike tongues
bellied back and
forth through. With
my free hand (the
other chastely folded
into hers) I’d roam the
ramparts of her
clothes seeking
ingress, stroking
her belly through
her blouse, running
fingers down her leg
in long, surflike
strokes. Emboldened
in the warming bath
of our embrace,
I’d unbutton
her blouse to roam
hot skin below, and
tempt a tight brassiere
which psaltered just
a nipple, it seemed,
a nub which hardened
as I squeezed and
pulled until she’d
shift hard, letting me
know I’d once more
gone too far. And
so I’d withdraw
whispering I’m sorry,
la canticle of a falling,
failing faith.
We grappled on
that couch for many
nights with lame
sitcoms on TV
as our surf, those
babblings a weird
counterpoint to
the urgencies we
flailed a flustered in
the grip of young
love and the wash
of steely-willed sin.
Other times we’d
listen to Moody Blues
albums -- Seventh
and To Our
Children’s Children’s
our kisses
lubed by those arty
confections of
ennui and loss which
prophesied what
always happens in
the ebbs of love.
Laura was her name,
a sweet, blue-eyed
puppy of a kid who
played beginner’s guitar
in our youth group
and who believed
in God and love
as much as I, though
by that time I had
wandered toward the
edges where a stranger
music thrilled. What
I sought in her
was more a part of
what I by then
could no longer renege
for the God of
saintliness and
morality, with His
paradise of dead
and sexless clouds.
One night I managed
to loose the button
of her jeans, and
slowly -- oh so
slowly -- work the
zipper down, and then,
with kisses most gentle
and devout working
the higher ground,
with infinite patience
and resolve I
worked my fingers
slowly under a fabric
I would never see and
got my middle
finger down into
what turned into
a sea, a startlingly
moist ingress which
touched something
deepest in me,
turning all the world
red in a sudden
ripening rush. She
heaved and with
a start forced my
hand back -- for the
last time again. My
fury was despicable,
but what could I
do? I wheezed my
lame apologies
and got the hell
on outta there, never
to return. The hell
with her high purities!
I fumed in the elevator
heading down. I’d
find another soul
more ripe for the
plucking ... So
went my blueballed
rages as I pushed
on out the door
into Chicago at
mid-winter, the night
very cold, the winds
coming off the lake
almost an angelic
in reproof -- or was
it my own new
solitary and luciferic
sprite, invoked when
she said No? As I
hugged my peacoat
tight and walked
carefully the icy
streets back to the El,
my mind slowly
settled back to
guilt and piety. I
prayed God forgive
my sin of wanting
more than my heart
of holiness could
ever quite fit in.
I’ll never do that
to a girl again,
I prayed,
yet as I mouthed
those words I
lifted my hand to
my face and sniffed
that offending, middle
finger. -- Oh what
dizzying surprise I
found congealed there,
something deep
and fishy, all sea,
of an iniquity
which ruled at least
the better (or worse)
half of my heart.
And when I put
that middle finger
to my lips and tongued
that wild brine, my
soul departed from
one life (cruel streets,
teen angst, God’s ways)
and disappeared
beneath the wave
I had been baptized
in at age 14, far
south in Florida,
off Melbourne Beach.
I didn’t know that
then, but now I
believe at that taste
of sea sex I was
spirited with Dylan
Tor back and far
and down into a
womb which bid me
swim all nights in
search of her blue
bed, and sing then
say just what flavor
hurled me flowerlike
below, my life
turned upside down
into an ocean-going
route no matter
how far inland I
woke and worked
and raveled, no
matter how dry
the outsides all seemed.
A secret sacred knowledge
was passed to me on
the shore of my
middle finger that
night, a kiss, if you
will, which turned
my bones to salt,
my heart into
a boat, and this hand
into a wave always
urgent for that shore
across the way
from an old faith’s
eternally dry door.
I jilted Laura the
next day saying
for God’s sake we
should stay apart,
my eyes sailed
on to Dena in
Bible Study, big
breasted and damaged
and greedy for
dark love. Laura’s
hurt blue eyes
(for only a week --
she found a better
guy) stared at
me across the room
in bitterest farewell
as I sailed on
in search of her
body, kiss by
clench by eventual
bed by bed by bed.
I have aged in
that travail -- married
once then again
and hope to call
this woman home
when I am old.
Somehow I’ve found
my God inside
that moist travail:
The virgin on the
couch madonna to
this low blue
spiralling choir,
cathedral to all
I’ve never found
sufficient way into.
Each poem I
write is a cross
hung between
her breasts -- gold
nails through
my heart which
bleed such sweet
fishy milkiness.


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