Winter Light; or, Luther, Part 1

by proustitute

i.
The chapel is silent shaken only in winter by frozen branches snapping slickly outside the windows the interior lit only by a lone flame so that we can see each other and they cannot see us     whether the limbs or the loiterers we cannot say but there is god in every corner of this place and our disappointment with not having found Luther here in time to help with the nails and the shouting in the square makes us not only hermits but failed heretics     Here I stand, I can do no other     I once tried to tell you what the winter light does to me I pointed to the blue hue it cast on everything around 4 in the afternoon lighting things up from the inside like the underside of a moon     you saw no such blue but instead a radiant glow covering every object that surrounded us in the chapel room into which we have bundled ourselves for the season to hibernate to wait out the raids     How does one explain that particular shade of blue to another who cannot see it even at the tip of a pointed forefinger for it is there where the pews are screwed into the wooden floorboards and it is there where the too-high windows give way to the grey sky just there (look) in the corners as if the blue will soon usurp the sombre cast making it all the more deadening when it lays its claim     And so I keep silent while I suffer the winter light as we live out some chamber play inside a place that once was holy to others and is no more but that is still holy to us who are much less     We crouch in shadows where I read passages from Blake (we who are but for a time and who pass away in winter) or Woolf (melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night) to prove I am correct in wanting to bed you behind the sacristan and you read me Keats’s odes to the seasons or else Shelley’s Stanzas Written in Dejection either to offset the melancholy or else to drive me down deeper into Baudelaire’s limping days

ii.
In the film there is a scene in a stairwell where the chiaroscuro is the sole point as if when we face one another it is only at the intersection of light and shadow of hope and despair that a composite image emerges that is worth salvaging     I save scraps of paper and think if we ever get out of here alive before the winter has snowed us under that I would like to feign Luther and nail a revised version of the Theses to all doors that can take a nailing or that are sans crucifix     I wonder if you will help me with this or if you are my gaoler I your task a kind of seasonal lull between the archivist job and the university term recommencing as if I might be something dangerous the town has entrusted you to keep secluded cloistered cut off from all light save the blue that always always does me in     Perhaps you not seeing the blue gives your true role away for if you were on my side and wished to paper the town with a newer version of the Theses you would tell me you saw the blue even where you did not for saying you do not where I do already borders on a diagnosis of sorts especially with Christ looking down at us—whether we are clothed or not—all the while head bent to the left as if he too nails and all cannot face the blue of winter     The moments before he died, Christ was seized by doubt. Surely that must have been his greatest hardship? God’s silence     It is no wonder Luther did his work just before the season hit for we always knew he was a smart man and now that the chapels have emptied like asylums after the discrediting of the medical profession the only creatures left are those still with things to add words to say phrases to change emend

iii.
One night I ask you to take my hand so that I can sense the pulse as if in this silent world where only the branches snap I might learn which side you are on from how quickly or slowly it beats     You lay there languid with your palm in the air closing your eyes against the winter light which finally makes me think that you too see what I do and in my hands is still the box of nails with which I hope one day to complete what Luther began     we have lived here and read aloud here and licked each other’s bodies here for what else do two people do in this season alone in a chapel all disciples off to the sea or the city     I take the heel of your hand in mine cupping it lovingly because it is not yours that I see make us both turn to the left pressing the backs of our conjoined palms into the yielding wood of the nearest pew one long nail enough held point out between my teeth if only for the hammer of god (Is not my word like as a fire and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?) to make us bleed blue preferably but only enough to be shattered yet still somehow believed

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