Death Has Five Faces

My death has five faces.


    Sometimes she is a madonna with doleful expression.  Her veiled eyes approach, greeting with sad consolation, an unspoken assurance that you are lost beyond reclamation.  The delicate pleats of her garments trap all the turnings of that which is called meaning and of that which is called mystery.

    The fabric forms a mesh, a framework that holds us all, and in it we are all elbows and knees, knuckles and chins---bendings, twistings, and knobs---stylings of nothing shaping, through endless wrinkles and folds, the face of the amorphous, essenceless stuff that permeates the void.  You are merely a tiny nook, a gnarled crevice amongst the crinkles on the fractal boundary of the unknowable.  You are not special.  With perfect suchness, the kinks and bends of our entwining unfold, each bit containing the pattern of the whole, leaving the particulars of your apportioned niche without the slightest importance.

    The memory of a self to which you cling is no more than the suggestion of a contour now lost in the tangle of chins and elbows, a sea of fleetingly discernible features.  You have strayed into the common, where no one is anyone, and the someone whom you return will not be the one which left---that, too, is unimportant.  You have wriggled and squirmed from your nestled place for the benefit of a greater vantage on the weathered face of the unnameable, which now bestows on you a crinkled smile. The splendour of this vista is our one solace, and all is captured in a single commiserating glance from my death---she is devastatingly beautiful.


    Sometimes she is a wood nymph with hollow, soul-sucking eyes.  She is still and calm as the cool mist in the trees, an intonation of deadly eminence in her statuesque persistence of being.  Stark and immovable, she has always stood there beside you unnoticed.  Her eyelashes flicker and tremble, and the world shakes.  A shuttering breath.  Her appearance is uncanny: her face alight and her clothes candy-striped with colour.  Her pupils are sheenless shafts receding infinitely inward, a pair of ghastly pools of abyss decorating her countenance---twin black holes of an existence collapsed in upon itself---which will swallow you entire should you dare to meet their gaze.

    And yet she entices with charming features, furtive glances, and elegantly elusive words.  Hers is a banter of inflections without substance---she pushes and pulls, kneads and turns reality like taffy on a crank.  The roles of this universal interaction become defined, an arching and intricate pattern of enveloping genericity which grafts you into itself, moulding your every action, ever propagating onward its own flawless fulfillment.  And here are we, trapped by it, a progeny sprawling forth, rushing recklessly to enact the timeless drama anew, branching and winding a tautological path from nothing to nothing, a writhing and turbid rind of skin coating the vacuous potential of existence. She channels the empty flow, and with soft dissuasion, unravels everything you know, wrapping your mind inward and leaving you to stare yourself in the eye.  A perception thus bent in upon itself, you are caught in a fatal paradox, and it is the force of your own scrutiny which turns you to naught as you look on.  This lethally intimate interplay is undeniable and timeless: forever you are seduced by her vacant argument and eternally halted by her vortex stare.


    Sometimes she is a dyke, square and masculine, with short-cropped hair and men's clothing.  She is full of bile and irreverence, hard and pitiless with her becoming.  In a gesture made for show, her tongue stretches long and twists knots round her lover's.  She guides you through a stupefying succession of unutterable obscenity, exultantly revelling in the stigma, as though daring you to flinch.  Every dark pleasure whose omission you might have regretted is represented: the possibilities of flesh on flesh are easily exhaustible, as are those of chemical exhilaration and of brutality---indeed, what a drab and empty affair evil turns out to be at the end of all things, how lacking in imagination, and how petty and capricious a thing it is to have suffered an instant's guilt for any of it. The force animating her far surpasses any quality of the superfluity of shocking aberrations which my death performs.  

    She proceeds to throw wide the doors on all of the doings of the world, laying bare every visceral detail and leaving nowhere the residue of mystery.  Having endured the crushing surge of this overwhelming and garish display unmoved, you are left unable to judge anything---she has duped you into trading your judgement for understanding.  Now she is piqued and prickly; she harangues and tries to intimidate you, but you do not offend or frighten.  Bereft of judgement, nothing remains for you to defend---no patch of earth to call home, not even an identity---and you can no longer claim or be claimed by anything.


    Sometimes she is a hag, a screaming, emaciated wretch, cloaked in black, crouched in the recesses between our two worlds.  She reaches out a withered hand for you; her taloned fingers come close.  Ageless and grotesque, frail and skeletal, her teeth pointed and the luminous orbs of her eyes vibrant and fearsome, she intimates her anguished ravings and dark admonitions in a grating tumult of harsh howls.  Her shrill cries pierce and terrify, warning you off only too late, for you are drawn irretrievably into her fold.

    Trapped by the wormwood of this purgatory, the holes in space and time cluster in threes and become the skull sockets of nameless generations of dead.  And through the holes come the tremours of a gathering revelation: you are broken, shattered, splintered into esculpiary shards, the elemental pieces of the soul you once were.  Out of this fracture falls your disjointed clockwork, each cog merely a twitch, a mindless nervous spasm which goes on performing its now-functionless tick.  The fragments of you mingle without forming a whole, and you are left with only the sense of their futility.  But as you reflect on this persisting awareness, the pieces begin to reassemble, forming cobble by cobble and stitch by stitch a new collective.  And you will emerge from this she-witch's domain, but not the one who entered.


    Sometimes she is a crone, ancient as the stars, her skin wrinkled and furrowed into deep folds.  She is aged and bald and decrepit, yet ablaze with energy as she parades madly around the landscape, ever waving the banner of her five-fold unity.  She takes the delight of a child in inanities, and ceaselessly flits from one bit of nonsense to the next, flying helter-skelter with a frenzied absurdity and a laughter which percolates through reality, shaking free the knots of reason.

    She scintillates forth comprehension.  You are merely one of her meandering thoughts weaving through a tangle of murmuring voices and soft laughter and probing the subtleties of this cosmic joke.  You are a thought which has forgotten where it started, but proceeds on regardless, and this sudden awareness halts the thought and it is lost altogether.  Another must begin, winding from nothing into nothing, all in service of my death's eternal amusement.  All thoughts crown her piercing perception with a warm, embracing wit, and the hills and stars resound with her mirth.


Having danced my round with her, I am suffused with my death forever, and she---in all her incarnations---is part of me.  And I am nothing, and she creates all of existence within me.