Night after night I’d thresh fathoms deep while hypnogogic
images fractured my irritable sleep. So to get rest, I fantasised, I
made me a post-life effigy, somebody new and somewhere
else; I conjured a calm Ludmila of Prague – a holy martyr on her
tomb, half-shut eyes peeking shyly, slyly, so alive you think she’ll
rise & stare you in the eye. Dead, so life-like? Just lie back
& float your mind above your body: be an unbeing, ghostly dumb
& coldly numb, a slender, whitely marble torso. Imagine next
a fat machete. Heft it high – it’s heavy, grab it – whack!
Hack through skin, nerves, veins and bone – slice off a foot,
its hairy toes – toss the lot in a deep dark swell between planetary
orbits & spin it as space junk, aimlessly. Now, imaginatively,
bludgeon the other foot – whirl it away in Saturnian rings & heaven’s
steppes; next off with ankles, shins, knees, thighs – now hips &
privates & higher: go belly, solar plexus, breasts – you need
an axe with the heaviest blade to lop bodies off their fragile necks,
but what’s left sleeps, neatly dismembered & under clay &no longer
distracts the agile brain. Bless this small death in Morpheus’s
arms! My severed head floats like a doll’s, I sink in irrevocable
Gothic sleep. But wait, a query! This Ludmila! How did she die?
Well, she was strangled. Her shawl, they said. And below her
secretive knowing smile, the sculptor shows a ring-lined neck – the
murder site – done they say by the old queen’s spite. An old story, but
after the Old New Synagogue’s built. And as tyrants & tourists come
& go the lovely Ludmila lies still, past capture, revolt & metronome.
And that murderous 20th century tyrant, the megalomaniac Austrian who
kept Prague to be his museum of a vanished people, well, yay! Today
the Jews survive! I think of Goddess Chinnamasta who to nourish
her separated selves, cuts off her beautiful smiling head & tilts it high
so its red blood streams down her thirsty throat – & she lives again!