the body and blood

"Jesus Girl! (Kelly's Story)" by Elaine Sutton delves deep into the psyche of faith and tradition by unabashedly asking for more pleasure from the idols we hold dear in religion, marriage, and love.  Our first literary pairing to be accompanied by music, the original piano composition from classical musician, J.K. Hodge, "Heart Full of Snow" longingly plays to the main's character quest for spiritual and physical satisfaction.

Photograph by artist, Jenell Del Cid

Photograph by artist, Jenell Del Cid

Jesus Girl! (Kelly's story)

by Elaine Sutton

Kelly (Off the record):

     Nothing against my parents but they never really gave me any sort of a religious foundation. The most spiritual things they said were clichés and altruisms like ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘treat others the way you’d like to be treated,’ and, ‘good fences make good neighbors.’ It was always bizarre to my parents when I’d talk like a 90 year old monk as if I’d possessed a spiritual awareness that they didn’t. My mom said I was an indigo child. 

     This is off the record but if you want to get a general feel for my upbringing here’s a gem. When I was like four and mom left me playing in the backyard while she was putting away the groceries. When she came back I wasn’t there. She called my dad in the city- in a panic. He came home to help her look and so she wouldn’t call the police. It had only been a little while, too early to file a missing person's report and ‘What would it look like? Daughter of a CEO missing!’ My parents are kind of- yeah. Well they keep to themselves. They never got to know their neighbors.

     My parents tell me that after three hours they were forlorn standing in the backyard with a blanket and tea like disaster victims. In their despair they barely heard sweet hymns rising from behind the fence.  My father walked over to the hedgerow and big fence behind the house, keep in mind we had a few acres. I know memory can make things appear larger when you’re a kid but to this day that fence and those hedges tower over me. My father finally looked behind the hedgerow by the pool house where there used to be a gap between the hedges and the fence. This gap was big enough for me to walk abreast with ease as a child. For my father it was a tighter fit. After crab walking almost half the property he found a section with just a little picket fence and a space between our fence and theirs. My parents tracing my tiny footprints squeezed through and found themselves in a clearing. It was a small meadow where you could see could see clear through to the Church.  The property behind belonged to a Christian Science Church. I was outside of the church sitting at a table with the parishioners. Mom supposedly ran across the lawn like a madwoman.  I didn’t notice my parents approaching as I stoically dipped my graham cracker into my lemonade and said, “You’re already healed.  You are vibrating radiant health!” I reached out to touch the stranger and saw my mother turn white. Dad was fuming mad, “Quite the little girl you’ve got here,” said a woman straight out of little house on the prairie. “How dare you run off and scare us like that! We’ve been looking everywhere for you.” “Where did you think I’d be?” I asked. Dad pulled me hard by the wrist home. “You’re mother was worried sick, I had to come home from work,” he said trying to carry me while tearing through the hedgerow. “Why were you working on a Sunday?” I asked. “That’s enough sas from you!” At this point he wasn’t carrying me so much as using me as a shield for sticking branches and thorns. When he reached the end of the hedgerow he tore off a switch and spanked me. I was sore for three days. After that my grandparents started taking me to their church.


Kelly (On the record):

     I've always been the type of woman who looks forward to middle age. The time when everything gels and you live the meat of a well earned prosperous life. Unfortunately I find myself a vegetarian. Thirty two is a strange age. It's like Christ emerged from the desert ready to return home. An engagement ring is a very small platform from which to view the path ahead, perhaps it can be used as a periscope or the eye of an ankh. Through mine I see love. Though my whole life is about love I've actually never experienced the pleasure of it in it's most naked form. Sadly, I've had golden showers but I've never experienced what Danae experienced. I have no biological clock's tick but I see clocks melting and I sense my body vaporizing -becoming goddess form. My home is a technicolor basement apartment in a temporary afterlife. My body is a rainforest and my aura broadcasts glamor like a vampire. My fashion is borderline anti-fashion. I am fully present, but I also see a palace on a mountain valley with sparks of light floating in the sunset like yachts in a harbor. Younger men are delicious to me if only in my mind. There is no last temptation- I am not a cougar. I am a woman who looks like she is in her 20's making love to a man in his 20's. My overprotective father, the son of a pedophile thinks he is a wizard and is certainly manic. He is usually MIA but ever-present in my thoughts. I can sense a giant looming Monty Python hand of God about to nail me.

In three more days I’ll be thirty three and married.

Kelly (Screw the record this is live feed from the brain):

     The sun is not yet up and I have been pulled from my meditations and already denied three times- mostly for food and mostly by my mother. These nails make it uncomfortable to even suck on my thumb. I am going to be someone else, all of my friends and potential lovers will fall away. They are coming to beat my face and my body. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

     Now- a cabaret inside my head. The song is familiar. ‘I am just seven hours old truly beautiful to behold-.’ ‘It’s beyond me. Help me mommy! I’ll be good you will see. Take this dream awaaaaay!’ Sexier than Tim Curry, Queen of the Damned- Before I’m Dead- more than just my brains shuffle, I actually have the extensions and the headpiece and everything. Uncomfortable thorns pulling and stabbing my scalp. I’ve already gotten angry at the priest because he doesn’t understand the spirit as I do. ‘I AM- motherfucker! And you will see me coming in tulle and lace and prismic light!’

     No one knows me today. I don’t even know me. My kingdom is not of this world, I’m out in space among the stars of flickering candle light. I listen for the organs music to save me again but all I can hear are disorienting bells. Short of breath I kneel before a flame. You are my judge though I know not who you are, just a face on an icon. You’ve decided and the people have decided this fate for me. I wonder how many times they swing that censer thingie (thurible it’s called) back and forth, is it forty? I try to count. Whipped into shape by my trainer. I am all that is left -a ghost. A figure eight, zero cinched, infinity on end expanding in both directions of time. An hourglass. In this infinity murderers are released before me. My shoulders so much wider than my hips, a marionette. ‘Fuck man. Why did I have to take that Emily Dickinson book from my grandparents? I should have just let them have it, or donate it to the church sale like they wanted to do. I am not Jesus. Jesus had no doubts. Be like Jesus I command myself. He looks so sad up there. Should I not smile? No one smiles during their own vivisection. Smile mask syndrome sets in: smirk, fake smile, no expression lines. I wonder if our miracle icon cries real tears today -as my mother. At my height I see everything from underneath. I was named after St. Helen who found the cross, I am segmented into four and scarlet within- hallowed space. A cross to bear, but still not allowed on the altar. I would have had my mother by my side instead of my father but this option was not given. I am afraid but I give a solid countenance. Breathing from the space between my eyes like deep meditation. 

     And what of the one supposed to help me bear this cross. He hasn’t given me a dime to pay for this. He has made sacrifices though. If you can call being washed clean of original sin, (by myself) a sacrifice. This is a Law of Attraction marriage, ‘I like you pretty good, let’s see how it goes.’ I wonder if he knows that. ‘Here lies Lilith, Akasha, Isis and Ixchel Queen of the Damned.’

     The veil has lifted, perhaps I am too naked for this holy place. My sandal wedges are less comfortable than I had planned, It’s as if I have a six inch steel nail in the heel, just like stilettos, my toes are going numb. The ring burns straight through my palm. Remind me again why this is a sacrament? ‘You’ll live to regret this. This will be forgotten in a week,’ a voice inside my head warns. No objections? Anyone? My mother cries out with her eyes but manages only a whimper. The ring goes on smoothly now that I’ve lost weight, but no one tells you how heavy and painful the stephana is. With its generations old pearls. My pearls forged from decades of dysmenorrheic discomfort of the torment of neglected first loves alongside my mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers’. Connected forever to undeserving men. But the best man is a bearded thin Russian who does literally look like Jesus. I shall remember both thieves,

     A Judas kiss. I may as well circle a kitchen table or a drain now. A cloud blocks the sun enveloping the congregation in ultramarine and violet shadow. It is all Greek to me. Why have I forsaken myself? I have brought these people here to watch my entry into paradise I may as well bring them out into the cloudy, breezy, atmosphere, where the moon is out during the day. God’s hangnail. Real smiles now. Non-toxic bubbles precede the cool rush and I realize all I’ve had to drink in the past three hours is dehydrating communion wine. I thirst and am met with the vinegar of flashbulbs and disarming displays of feigned affection. Love is hate, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. But it is not yet finished.

     I am swept away after what seems like an eternity into the darkness of the limo. I wanted a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud but I will not be a bridezilla. Father into your limo I commend my spirit. I wonder if the church got the memo that it is crumbling away forever behind me. A waltz enters my head upon seeing the starry LED lights in the limo. It is Monty Python come this time to save me. “..and our galaxy is only one of millions and billions in this amazing and expanding universe.” Expanding like my corporeal waistline as I loosen my corset.   

     I am laid away in a tiny closet of a room. Trying to to bring my phone back from the dead. I change into something so much more comfortable that I could float away. My husband has gone, if I can judge by his nap in the limo he is dead to rights.

     He appears.  Why did I let him wear all white for the reception? “Always learning I see?” He is referring to the book of Hebrew poems where my personal vows are scribbled in vain. To my astonishment he says, “Go and tell our brothers I am here.” Laughter springs from within me, he’s always spoken cryptically. We are both only children. “Okay Jesus,” At least it’s not just me. Fellini and Pee Wee Herman in flashing projection rooms are set up to comfort me. We share a toast, mimosas at dusk. The band’s tuning up and quicksilver and mercury mylar are expanding with sacred geometry. He wants the photographer to record the sound of it.

     I am starved as the sky attempts to squeak out a little raspberry to compliment the indigo and royal purple to match my arrangements. Not enough lime green. Oh thank God the four piece knows the Grateful Dead. I chose the food before I became a vegetarian. Barely time to sustain myself, fish will have to do.  They want me to walk down stairs gracefully right now!? I can barely stand. Time running too quickly -overlaps. Only thirty minutes to see our lives flash before our eyes before upstairs past the smell of vomit we go.

     I’ve arranged the main dining area with long tables and neon lights . It looks like the last supper burlesque style. We’re gone and then we’re back, first dance, a toast, dinner, pee-wee and a number, dessert, coffee, last dance. Everyone doubts the passage of time, how quickly I’ve grown up, how quickly it’s all gone by. I am walking through locked doors.

     My father gave us some cash for the road, I love these rare moments when he’s sensible. My husband’s birth father is unknown to him. We don’t know much about him- either he was a rapist or he sniffed glue. Perhaps on our actual honeymoon we will return to the land of his birth and find out. Tonight it’s our old familiar apple, not so big on the bottom, if you know it. New York is getting old, outside the waxy coating keeps it red but inside it’s overripe and decaying.  We’re going to SoHo to enjoy our wedding night outside of our fathers house.

     I may be a hipster but I am not so bougie that the squares and stars and artsy spirals appeal to me. I love New York because it feels familiar to me like a big old blanket and I know where the octogenarian spunk stains are and avoid them accordingly.

     We wear our sunglasses at night. Tourists take our image knowing somehow that we are stars. Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe. We check in and ascend a second time, this time in darkness. I have a gift for my husband. It is a heavily lacquered wooden heart in a box. I had considered building an ant farm heart from dirt and plastic but it seemed too messy a project. He thanked me- the both of us knowing that there is another gift we have not yet shared.

     My infinity is about to be run through in this smoking room. I have no context for this, I am afraid. He tells me “peace” and passes the pipe. I miss my hookah. I miss pita and lox spread and taramasalata and guacamole, I’ve taken to eating like him now, and he only wants to eat me. An artist’s creed is different, ‘Feed the sheep and entertain the goats.’ Cast your net to the vortex -burst the vortex. He passes me a shottie, mouth to mouth, the first way I ever truly knew communion.

     I go now to rejoin the angels. Michael sickeningly the most prominent in my mind. The opposite of war isn’t peace it’s creation. I feel a pang of guilt at the fact that I don’t want to create life with this act. I go now into the astral. I command my spirit to reach the ends of the earth, the four corners of creation. I only wish this day known and remembered by all. As if reading my mind he says something I often tell him. “It’s done.” He continues. “Wherever we go we attract beautiful things and sounds, today they have seen our art and heard our music and one day we will have microchips and they will be able to experience it all first hand forever.”

     One of my imagined lovers used to describe the act of making ceramics as the act of love making. Better than Leonard Cohen and Sade. You smack down the clay, you wet it. You caress it and massage it. He would leave out the ghost allusion but used his hands in the description. Two fingers stroking. What is being made is not some canopic vase but a Klein bottle -Calvin Kleins tossed aside. A piece of red coral or section of human nervous system set in glass.

     Perhaps he is more Christlike than I. I am so much in the physical, I feel heat and wetness and naked flesh, he feels energy and light. I am Him. Jesus in Rio -I pull his long hair, he is stoney. I try to picture not penetration but sliding up and down one side of the X at the center of a figure 8 trying to bring the energy back into myself. I was never taught tantra but this must be it. Even after endless floods he can always keep going. But finally I am good -and He is good.