Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 10

10 | Psychopomp Magazine

completely submerged. Beneath the layer of skin, the heart faintly turns a little blue with the coolness of the water, but throbs strongly in response. Then she wets her neck, her body relaxing into the lowered temperature, while her jugulars acclimate. She steeps herself, finally allowing the water to tickle her head, and with a deep breath, submerges.

Eyes closed, Mac can hear the faint whir of the filter circulating the water. The slap of the gentle waves against the tile. And her heart, the pumping amplified and resonating. But she can’t feel it. All of her has become weightless, her face lost in the seaweed of her hair, her legs slightly crossed. Hanging, she floats still and calm, not letting even a bubble escape, until she can’t hold it back anymore and has to resurface. She’ll repeat this several times until she sees her nail beds have turned blue, and then will pull herself up the steps and shiver her way to the hot tub. She isn’t supposed to get into Jacuzzis, but she lowers in just to her hips, and drops only her hands in the rumbling water. This is her most private secret, her clandestine trips to the illegal hot tub. The heat thins her blood and stresses her heart, but she reasons she needs to raise her temperature just a little, and doesn’t stay long. Only once has she arched her back, kept her left arm holding the arm rail, and dipped her hair, feeling the delight of rushing water against her scalp.

Diastole

After any period of intense activity, the body naturally wants to rest. It sinks into the bed or chair. The muscles release away from the bone, soften, making space. And into that space, the soul refills, replenishes the will to move again. The need to fight. Curiosity.

Mac resists rest. When she is told to take it easy, to stretch out and relax, her eyes narrow to judging slits. She has a surplus of curiosity. Her motivation is overfull, a result of years of rest. Mac loves me because I tell her to run, I tell her I want it faster when she grinds into me, because I squeeze a handful of her hair and pull hard enough to force growth, stretching her fibers from her. I let her exhaust herself, enjoy the sanctuary of being spent, the sensation of walking into a darkened church an hour after Mass and feeling the residue of confession, song, and supplication. If the body is a temple, hers lingers with the smell of just-extinguished candles, the complicated heaviness of confession and absolution, the persistent quest to know why we are here, and changing answers. I know the delicate balance of pressure in her