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a litany

for an unnamed and terrified god

By Mesh ToraskarPublished 4 months ago 2 min read
6
dusk, today last year (24/10/2022)

Tonight, I say a prayer to Wednesday. That small and unborn future - that tender goddess of all unknowable things, life is so absurd and arbitrary, and yet I've landed here, in a narrative no one was meant to outlast.

Life is so fragile in the most cruel of ways, and yet I walk along the water's edge at night and bear witness to the refracting lights against its shore, demarcating a hundred peripheral and critical lifetimes.

The fog subsides and I see something in the distance. The remainder is a man in the shape of grief building a staircase. Everything I have loved has been built upon this rickety set of stairs, which I climb up each night like a trapeze artist or a dead man ascending to heaven.

Blades of cold slide under doors and cut the knees off those who knelt to say the rosary. The concept of God, a sword against the throat. To move against one’s own divinity leaves a scar. The night sticks to my skin and I grow bones against autumn. I try and fail to fasten every star to the daylight sky.

Most days my love for life lands quietly on my mouth like the kiss of a butterfly or a brief and fleeting lover and vanishes, but sometimes it stays, imprints its sweetness on my teeth, sings me to sleep and makes sure I'm dreaming - what glorious and heartbreaking fanfare.

The constant and hollow hum of the earth, insistent in her magnitude despite the relentless. Despite the tides of love and loss, a fish jumps in and out of the water, the frogs sing their evening mantras, distant laughter catches in the wind and lands, buoyant, in the air.

Language fails me, always. Flimsy things, these words. Every­­thing flounders in the face of real gratitude, where even a thank you fails to surmise and the metaphor in the mouths of survivors becomes a way to innovate around pain.

Something grand and perpetual waits for me like a god in the dark, but I am small and impatient. Every time the doorbell rings I brace myself for more kindness. I don't understand how, in this string of infinite universes, anyone could have done better than this.

So I tip my head back against the sunrise and fall backwards into emptiness without blinking.

surreal poetry
6

About the Creator

Mesh Toraskar

A wannabe storyteller from London. Sometimes words spill out of me and the only way to mop the spillage is to write them down.

"If you arrive here, remember, it wasn't you - it was me, in my longing, who found you."

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Outstanding

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock4 months ago

    Gratitude is a gift in & of itself.

  • Mackenzie Davis4 months ago

    Litany: a series of petitions for use in church services or processions, usually recited by the clergy, and responded to in a recurring formula by the people. — I couldn’t help myself, I had to look up the definition to figure out why you chose the title. (I’ll circle back to this.) We start small, with a future. In our smallness, we pray a petition for Wednesday. A petition for more than just smallness? Or perhaps really just a petition for forgiveness for wanting more. I love how you contrast, pit against, fragility and light, as though saying that fragility, being cruel, is outweighed by the light of hundreds of lives. I see that light as being not tangible light, but the metaphor of their LIFE instead, that which is not fragile at all, and indeed, opposed to the mere FEELING of fragility in the cruelest moments we experience in our lives. Somehow, the act of looking from a distance makes that fragility stronger, the cruelty kind, the light LIFE. And yet, the speaker is not looking at the lights from a real distance, merely at the reflection just beside him. At the same time, it’s in the long, metaphorical/spiritual distance that he realizes he’s looking at a reflection of others, while also, presumably, himself too, and this just brings these truths alive even more. Wow. I’m more in awe of this stanza than I realized. You know, I’m considering how free and loose I am with my comments on your poetry. Normally, I post one fraction of my thoughts on another poet’s work, but with you, it feels like I need to show you the journey I went on, stanza by stanza, and often, line by line. It’s like, soul truths can’t be isolated and reduced. (Forgive the random aside.) "The remainder [of fog] is a man in the shape of grief building a staircase." —Like, wtf? That is so BEAUTIFUL. Like the grief itself is made from the air, is the world, is the ladder between the earth and the heavens. "Everything I have loved has been built upon this rickety set of stairs"; well, yes, if the fog is the stairs and the fog is the world. Just incredible metaphor, wowowow. "The concept of God, a sword against the throat. To move against one’s own divinity leaves a scar." —The concept of God, not GOD — that is important here, as one’s concept of God is not usually objective, but coming from a subjective, self-projected place, making the second line so appropriate: moving against one’s own divinity "leaves a scar." Wow, that is profundity to the fullest extent. Fanfare. Your diction is immaculate. That a love for life can be simultaneously a kiss of a butterfly and fanfare — that is the contradiction only a writer can make true. You totally alluded to your own poem the other day, and I missed it! Well, better late than never? "Language fails me, always. Flimsy things, these words. Everything flounders in the face of real gratitude…" God if I’d memorized that earlier, I would have just quoted it to you instead of my clumsy rumblings. — But holy shit, the rest of the stanza… "the metaphor in the mouths of survivors becomes a way to innovate around pain." This is supremely stunning. The ability to even conceive of hearing/seeing a survivor using a metaphor, (of course many words are metaphors all on their own) but to see it as innovation around pain…that is such a unique thing to say. Gosh! Like forgiving the cause of the pain, the feeler of the pain, by wrapping it in a metaphor, as if the process of artistic thinking is the beginning, if not the end, of traumatic healing. That is amazing, my mind is spinning with new neurons. Themes: I’m seeing, ultimately, a theme of one’s place in the world, specifically the smallness and kindness of it. "Life is so absurd and arbitrary, and yet I’ve landed here, in a narrative no one was meant to outlast" meeting "I don’t know how, in this string of infinite universes, anyone could have done better than this." —Seeing how air is used, from fog to moving upwards to heaven, night sticking to "my" skin, distant laughter on the wind, landing buoyantly in the air…It’s a motif for how all-encompassing this poem is, how the stakes are set, the speaker against the world, but not exactly against, more like, taking measure of his worth, or at least, how he can zoom out and see the happenings with a lessened intensity, hence the last line of the poem: "So I tip my head back against the sunrise and fall backwards into emptiness without blinking." Falling backwards into emptiness, is not exactly a bad note to be ending on, rather, one that is keeping eyes open to what the sunrise illuminates, but removing one’s body from the weight of the pain that must be innovated against. It is the eyes that are still seeing life acting beautifully ("a fish jumps in and out of the water, the frogs sing their mantras, distant laughter catches in the wind…"). The emptiness here is more, I think, a sign of relief, a lightening of the load, finding a comfort in the darkness, just as the speaker wanted to hang the stars in the daylight sky. His love of life is the gentlest touch and the sweetest word, the most comforting lullaby, making it so that everything else isn’t too much. Emptiness, therefore, is a relief and leaves him with mere observation and the ability to process. I suppose, the emptiness is the space between today and tomorrow, that liminal space that opens up during prayer. This prayer to Wednesday seems to be one that takes away the dread (perhaps?) of this line: "something grand and perpetual waits for me like a god in the dark, but I am small and impatient." Is this grand and perpetual thing simply, time? Or Wednesday itself? Or maybe the constant existence in the narrative no one was meant to outlast? I feel like the latter is more true here. I love this line, however it fits in: "I don’t understand how, in this string of infinite universes, anyone could have done better than this." The world is what it is, perhaps I can or can’t change it, as small as I am, but it is beautiful and kind anyway. What a miracle. And so, your litany is the repetition of this miracle. I can't change it, but I can see it. I can see it and feel its kindness, even with the pain I can also see.

  • Poppy 4 months ago

    This is astoundingly beautifully written. I want to copy and paste everything to point out how amazing it is but I’ll try to limit myself. ‘Everything I have loved has been built upon this rickety set of stairs, which I climb up each night like a trapeze artist or a dead man ascending to heaven.’ Exceptional!!!!! ‘The night sticks to my skin and I grow bones against autumn. I try and fail to fasten every star to the daylight sky.’ Whaaaat, that is so perfect. Like I can’t comprehend how much I love that. And the ending as well!! Oh my. I have to say though, language does not fail you and your words are not flimsy😂 the way you weave words together is incredibly powerful.

  • Suze Kay4 months ago

    This poem positively bursts with language and imagery that stirs my soul. Mesh, you are such a wordsmith. Thank you as always for your offering to this world. I pray you’re holding some things back for yourself - to publish for pay 🤩

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