Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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The Big Secret. People had begun to suspect that my brother and I were adepts. Our magics were becoming difficult to conceal.
It was Christmas and we were inside the house of our biological family. The Mother had already called us to dinner twice. We stalled out in the television room, miming obscene morality plays.
What to do next, we wondered. If our eyes met theirs across the dinner table, we might burn holes in their retinas. We might muscle a plug of ghastly recognition into their brains and sear their genetic codes with the breath of the big white god who breathed through us. Dumplings, the traditional dish of the biological line, Eastern European Aryans, might turn to stone, hurtle through the air and break bones, splinter skulls.
How could we ever expose our dangerous sexuality, the perfect puppet-servant of the Christ? On Christmas Day we be too great a gift, Me too purely Me and He too purely He, or We too purely NOT WE. NOT THE FLESH they nurtured and tortured. NOT THE FLESH they spent half their lives glorifying in the complicated stories they fabricated while asleep, NOT THE FLESH immunized to entrancement, God’s manic fangs sunk deep in the neck.
Yes if we raised our eyes from our white meat at the table and met the eyes of one of our blood relatives for an instant, our white heat would want too much to gush out, rush across the skinless synapse between us, and crush that dark light of personality they have hoarded these many years.
We could not be trusted. We were mortal danger to them. We could not be trusted except that we be still attached to false memories, vaguely pleasurable remembrances of scratchings in the womb that bind the terrible loving urge to annihilate them.
The Mother called again. My brother and I postponed our decision, amusing ourselves with magician’s tricks. My brother poured red salamanders from the ends of his fingers. As they fell they slithered into tiny wheels of fire. Meanwhile I hovered a few feet over his head, recklessly dismissing gravity, though the parents sat in the next room. I made the wheels of fire curl up, like a foetus in a big wheel, and obey the tuggings of my outstretched hand. I deadpanned, almost facetiously, trying not to brag, “Isn’t that flame’s behavior rather . . . glamorous?”
“What exactly is it that we’re doing?” my brother asked, advancing a clever innocence to test my childhood.
“Regulating the BUBBLING UP of the Underworld,” I boasted, wiping my nose.
Silently, with instant astral artistry, we crystallized two arms of a Rosy Cross, he the Fire and I the Water, and the BUBBLING UP the remembrance of the family. We, he and I, are together and the future abode of resurrected and unrepentant soul blood. Though sometimes I am Fire and He is Water. And on some occasions we have dramatized the cross of Earth and Air.
And even as we skimmed along the surface of a ruthless future North American eastern seaboard in a winged and fiery wheel within a wheel, the fleshy outcropping of Ezekiel’s favorite vision — even in a suspended instant between one mother’s call and the next — we squeezed out another furious exaltation.
As the salamanders tumbled from my brother’s droning fingers, we let them scatter where they would, unleashing them from our hands. Many swarmed to the alderwood table, ancient heirloom from the paternal side. At first we casually extinguished each fire as it ignited.
Then — who knows how long we pretended our accidents were not our most intimately willed secrets? — a river of sparks converted the table, in many dimensions, from Earth to Fire. And how long before the entire house of the house was smoldering in its splitting skin? Not very long. Not very long and our blood relatives were spitting blood and disappearing in the fire.
Just the day before hundreds of people had been eating our electricity like food. The vision of an apple pie that I had spun from the energy of an idling motor had been devoured in minutes — and immediately another, and then hundreds more. Or at least, I’ll say, the people had eaten the fillings. Perhaps they had left most of the crusts. But it was impossible to deny our magnetism. They consumed what we created as fast as we served it.
And now we fed elemental Air into the burning of the house of our old flesh and blood ties. We rapidly turned the house into a furnace. And how it roared like fossil fuel.
And who would have guessed that Christmas dinner would never even be begun, that hands would be bathed in blood yet never enact the minor domestic ceremony: before a major sacrifice of the children made the family into a fable without flesh, a story they told each other to laugh.
And so two prematurely wise souls, my brother and I, escaped from the meat of a job-well-done, bodies raised from a germ to the hardy specimens of very famous magnets. We dragged nursery rhymes all the way down to Mister Hell, Christ-Below, Daddy of Our Own Choosing. Only a passing wish and the fleshy dye was washed from our ash and we were white and fierce again.
Then we fed a family of millions and grew light and transparent armies to inhabit the sluggish underworlds for a while. Our generations lasted minutes. In the time it took for us to piss once, foetuses grew eyes brilliant enough to turn the crust into seas of molten metals. Everywhere we looked we saw loyalty, and finally we wrapped ourselves in coma and sank to the core of the planet.
There a blue flame whipped around us, a nuclear bomb at the heart, my brother and I, and we imagined the head and feet of the family whose dissolution would signal the initiation of the Earth.