And Take Unto You The Body As Your Wife

Margaret Wack

You have the eyes of a martyr, deep
and round, the way the paint cracks
and the light glances off,
full of terror and ecstasy.

You have the face of an animal,
heavy cow's eyes sad and lowing
in a smooth-flanked face,
and you are led crooked and starving

as the best hermit, your throat
an open grave, your tongue heavy
with salt and rotten sweetness.
You must go forth

into decay, and the flowers of fungi
will bloom upon your bones
and you will be transformed. The soil
will eat of you and you will be purified.

You would like to be consumed,
you are a stone in the stomach.
This is not about food. It is about
desire. You must fall upon

the steps of the chapel,
bite your own tongue, let the birds
and the dogs devour you, oh,
the sweetness of you, you must

go forth. You must let go.
This is not about god
it is about being swallowed. You are
in the process of undoing yourself,

you are starving for teeth, you are
hungry for bone. You are
not a prophet, you are too full
of lacking and everyone knows

that prophets are full of honey
and of locusts and of fire, everyone
has seen the way their eyes shine.
You are led into the desert

unshod and unwell,
all dapple-skinned, and your bones
must be bleached clean, your body
must be burned until it is

lye and ashes, you must be cast
upon the rocks of the sea and the salt
must devour you and when
you return all ruby and teeming

you must be scaled and skinned
and slaughtered. You must multiply.
You are despairing of the night,
and it is not the darkness

but the length, both the length
and the finitude, all desolate and populous
with things you have and have not
done. You are yearning for a marvelous

fullness, you are mourning your own
musculature, your starving cells,
your hair like grain. You must swallow
your tongue over and over until

you cannot exhale, you must
keep everything inside yourself
until you are brimful and bursting.
When you open the door

in the morning you must
ask yourself, is this the land
that will finally transform you?
Where will you be most

alone? You must ask, where will
the spirit best be able to ravish
you, like a house overcome
by flames, like the body of a woman

who has left her body?
You are in love and you
are appalled. You must
be born each instant and rot

each hour. You must consume yourself
from the inside out, gut first
and gleaming. You must
marry the body. You must

murder the wife.

Margaret Wack has had her work previously published in Strange Horizons, Arion, Liminality, and others. More can be found at