Let the Heavens Sever
by Benjamin Bellas
I get so fucking high off the fragrance of a southern slash pine surviving a swamp on fire. I lie expectantly, like a junior-high featherweight wrestling for the first time. I leave my body prone. I am a devout slab of trash-piled mountain awaiting my rapture in the form of a fully stuffed oracle. Fill me. I am a virgin from an old-time religion lustfully begging for the bliss of my own sacrifice. Marry me off as I slump in devotion. I’ve been saving myself for the bedroom games of this sacred perfume, where serotinous cones burn, bake & erotically asphyxiate my brain chemistry, render me mute in the face of a symphony written in the key of serotonin minor. Have you ever noticed the sweet ballad a breeze only releases when it is broken by an orchestration of conifer needles? It is a breathy call. A beckoning. The chorus sings, “Stay, watch me phantom.” This is how I know God created the pine stands of southern Florida for swallowing secrets, a terrain built explicitly for treasures to disappear. A black box where a python constricts the last bit of lung inside a wood stork, like working the air mattress flat after the last weekend guest is dispatched with. Vanishing is the language we assign to the act of sliding beyond the drawstring rim of a muscled bag of patterned scales. Processed, transformed, deposited back on the land as fertilizer & solid raw form– natural material given birth to. Bones blessed with their first clear sight of cyan sky. The slash pine convert the newborn into tangible reinventions of railroad ties, & pulp, & timber, & fuel. “Stay watch me phantom.” When dimensional lumber is delivered to craft the skeletons of conservatively designed offices, or kitchens in churches beyond the horizon in every direction, it is only fitting, for even Christians fetishize resurrection, & oblivion. My children, when my last hymn escapes me, beyond the gown, beyond the gurney, I intend to be a slow almost imperceptible fade. After all, armageddon is nothing if not the simultaneous culmination & termination of the religion one believes in.