Every night, in the tender stretch of time between velvety blackness and
golden dawn, I spread my legs in bed and hold vigil. Sometimes I wake
up. Sometimes I wait up. Either way it rings without fail—the alarm in
my body, as regular as the vesper bell. I slip my hand between my
thighs, close my eyes, lips to the skies, and pray to you. My mouth
moves, slow and soundless like my fingers, tasting your name on my
tongue like rich communion wine. I whisper it over and over, the way
heavy-breathing Baptists beseech God for mercy: frenzied, feverish, on
the edge of hysteria.
There’s a word for this. I’ve heard stories before, of dancing
plagues—of Roman holy rollers who rocked for days, who started one day
and did not stop, fanatical thousands who danced till they dropped.
Historians called them manic. Crazy zealots in a panic. But “crazy”
connotes destruction. We prefer possessed. Possession turns
wallflowers into wildflowers, takes the novice and makes them apt, frees
the talents that once felt trapped. With your spirit inside me, I moan
like the saints. I move like the shakers. I meet divine madness. I dance
and I dance, faster, harder, and I do not stop until, for one rapturous
moment, I am speaking in tongues, swept up in surrender, believing in
forces to which I am blind. Afterwards, I feel as those zealots must
have felt, the second their bodies hit the ground. Sore. Speechless.
Sleepy enough to forget I’m alone, while you hold vigil in your little
home, somewhere out there, in a bed of your own—with a dance partner
who isn’t me. Holding another pair of praying hands. Hands that held
yours as you took vows. Hands that have waved politely to me at church
picnics. Hands ringed with your family’s precious stones, with your
sterling lifetime devotion. As my consciousness fades, like the night
into day, I must lie to myself the way mourners do and pretend my god is
“everywhere.” In the slickness on my skin. The hammering of my heart.
The aura of my afterglow. And the last thought I have before sleep
finally takes me is, I hope she worships you the way I do.