“Man dies constantly until the moment of his demise.”
—Heidegger, Being and Time
The peacock’s feathers flashed, all at once, a royalty of white. There were no gaudy blues or greens. This was an albino peacock.
Not all at once. Slow down. This is what it seemed but not how it was. Slow it down, count every feather.
One for the draining of your stomach when her eyes closed and you put your boyish mouth to hers and tried to make her gasp awake. How the sky came over in a white haze like some great godly glaucoma.
Two for the Mass for the Dead. One dead, a two-foot casket, laid in earth. White on black earth. A world in monochrome.
Three for hating your pallor. For looking in the mirror and setting, actually seething, at your genetic shortcomings. The madness of this.
Four for holy water. It brings him back, she says, but it did not.
Five for The Body of Christ on your tongue. There he fizzes. Think holy thoughts.
Six for the white of your soul, just after confession. Keep yourself clean.
Seven for his waxen face, the jaw you knew they’d sewn shut, the manufactured placidity.
You cannot count every feather.
But you can look at the peacock. All white. And you can see. Really see.
The idea for this piece was inspired by one of my Twitter followers, the excellent @CarolAtherton8!