Randilee Sequeira Larson
I was transfigured in ’09.
The crucifixion took place within a tiny plastic bottle. My cross tumbled, bright and acrid, into the palm of my hand. It tasted of industry and plastic. Above my head, they hung a sign: “L429”—Aspirin.
I died, sat at the right hand of shadows, and for three days I puked up the remains of myself. Orange and bitter were the remains of myself; orange and bitter was my new goddess shroud. My holy pagan vestments dragged across the dirt as I rolled away the stone and found not a single disciple left in mourning. For three years I lived among the tombs, unbound and uncontrolled, wailing to the mountains and cutting myself with stones. I called out to the people and watched them recoil from my wounds. I let the grapes ferment inside my throat. I ate only bread and honey then watched my flesh retreat deep within my bones.
From body, to blood, to wine, to nothing. This was no miracle. It was a metamorphosis of corruption.
After 40 days and 40 nights of fasting, I consulted the oracles, their reclined sofa alters, clicking pens, and scrutinous clipboards—They told me to drink more water.
So I drowned myself in blessed rain. I baptized myself in the sea. I flung myself into rushing rivers and drank until I floated, fat and engorged, down the streams and creeks they birthed. I reveled in the jagged stones I caught along the way.
My body floated to the boundary of the sea, where a small cult of fleeting worshipers awaited my sickly form. Artists and bards, con men and lovers, for who would follow at the feet of Fear, pouring libations of whiskey and water, burning nicotine incense and praising the way my deathly divine heart trembles?
Only pale, lofty poets with greedy hands and members more upright than their morals. They feed me figs and lies, tracing the scars of my transformed skin with white fingers, promising to pull me from the depths with their love and devotion. They set coins atop my eyes, within my hands, as I become blind to their sins.
Psalms have been written, wistful and vulgar. Flowers have been offered, and fennel placed atop my shaven skull. They conjure eternity with their lyrics, press their wine lips to mine, and are never seen in worship again.
I am a fleeting religion of sad, lost men. I am a wretched affair atop a golden alter. They love my sweet sorrow, my drunken divinity. Their honey-tongues reach out to me and push, deeper down, deeper down, deeper down, until I can no longer see the sun.
I’ve shaken hands with Hades and his lovely flower-bearing wife—They told me to lighten up.
So I set myself atop a pyre of righteous anger.
My jagged scars split open from the heat, steam rushes from my veins. My eyes boil with rage. I can hear the congregation scream, smell the vestment’s noxious fumes. My fennel crown erupts into an unholy halo and my ribs split open like wings. For the first time in years, I feel a thump in my chest.
Gold ornaments and liquefied gems run down the walls of my temple like honey, burning but beautiful, and I lap at them like a hungry dog. The priests fall to their knees and beg for mercy, for patience, of which I have no more to give.
All around me, the temple crumbles. Air rushes in and the flames take a moment to breathe before swelling, bright and proud, and consuming the pews, the congregation, anyone desperate enough to try and brave this force. The ceiling comes down above me, and I sleep beneath destruction for ten days. I do not dream, I rest soundly in Sheol.
When I awake, I am alone.
The sun cuts through the soot and warms my face and the smooth curve of my swollen gold-filled belly. The air gently brushes the ash from my newly purified form. My legs curl beneath me as I pull myself from blackened earth, from the grave, stretch my arms into the sky, and feel the scales fall from my eyes.
I rise, transfigured.
Randilee Sequeira Larson is a graduate of Portland’s Concordia University, where she was awarded “Thesis with Distinction” for her personal memoir, Savages. Her work has appeared four times in Concordia’s literary journal, The Promethean, and once in ZPublishing’s Emerging Writers of Oregon Series. Randilee’s work is often experimental and informed by her religious background as well as her past experiences with mental illness and sexual assault.