But memory is the greatest lie of all. No, correction: the greatest set of lies. Even the boy who remembers his mother reading to him is participating in lies. So it is that to recollect God pinning me to the hospital bed,
His hands cruel against my chest, His beard dangling only mere inches away from my lips, the inability to move, the weight of Him crushing me against the bed as He whispers Who are you to question the Divine? is nothing more
than memory, a lie. The nerves in my neck and back on fire, the prickly heat rippling through me like fire? A lie. It was nothing more than the nerves misfiring. The metal ring, the titanium ring around my head, the halo was sadly, most definitely, not a lie.
One misfortune begets another. And all stories of origin are lies that beget more lies. Three cracks in the bone of the axis begets the halo. The halo begets the state of stillness, or is that begat? The stillness allows the wings to erupt uncontrollably
from my back. I like to think that this was the sequence of events, injury-halo-stillness, that birthed the monster. But that, too, is a lie. The wings had made themselves known years earlier, had erupted to full span and withered away many times before. Who am I to question the Divine?
Who am I to return to the scene armed with words and bookish learning? I sit here now with the wings about to rupture the tissues between my shoulder blades. I want answers, meaning I want lies. I want lies. I muck around in memory and find only lies.
21 The Paris-American
C. Dale Young is the author of three collections of poetry. His most recent is Torn (Four Way Books 2011). He practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He is one of the 2012 Poetry Fellows of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He lives in San Francisco.