A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. the order of doing. ritual. from Latin ritualis, from ritus. the order of completing something, a sort of convention, desperate habit.
the same these words that make your blood flow into the ends of your fingers and then out. the color leaving the first joint becoming numb. becoming phantom, almost. your movement no longer your movement, some kind of forcing happening. your body is not your body.
after death. close. eyes and mouth. the ritual of mourning: sheet placed over the body, candle lit next to the body, guardians of the body, sit with the body, read psalms to the body, cleanse body, clothe body, place body. cedar casket. the mourning grows over seven days. cannot cut hair, shave, attend parties. suspend time. pull away for three hundred and sixty-five days. passing of the third mourning period.
cannot grow without deer blood. things begin to fall through the cracks. this is all oral. you cannot, cannot, you cannot, you must. follow these steps for water. for growth. to preserve this. what is this—
intimacy of you and the snake around my neck. dog hair stuck beneath skin. the sound a body makes when a heart gives out. a sort of failing. expiring. I cannot even smell. pee on the carpet I won’t wipe up. I cannot watch tv with my dead dog.
suspend the everyday. invert the everyday. kings become servants, servants become kings. grant the body freedom. these days things are changing. will change. yearly I remember you. become your body which is not a body. your face is hidden. I cannot find you. I cannot find. when did you become this creature—
your stomach is splitting. and a kind of opening. the happenings. every year this day write a letter with words you know. repeat the action in my sleep. invariably follow these rules, your rules you made before. before, did you know this was happening—
Kellie Cook is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a poet and creative writing instructor living in Portland, Oregon. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Portland State University where she served as the Poetry Editor for Portland Review from 2016-2017.