Monday, February 07, 2011

Heretic’s Hospital

They came from Botulfsson and Savonarola, from Pistorius and Wendelmoet, by oxcart and mule waggon, in groups of twos and threes, some lagging behind like lame dogs, others charging ahead grasping at imaginary straws; they came and they came until the streets were swarming with heretics. Casement wore a Congolese Headdress festooned with partridge feathers and a fiery red cockscomb, making him the first full-fledged heretic to refuse to wear a Sattler Mitznefet. ‘pillory me if you like but I will never wear a miter. Never I swear!’ I swear I never laid a hand on him! Must have fell over backwards over the breakwater wall, little peeps cooing and going out of him. Save my own life by a hair. Leave it to God or the devil. Heretics Fork brings the best out in a man. Keeps the chin from getting flabby. Yank ‘em up by the throat. Reserved for regicides. Makes a man out of a Brazen Bull. Semi heretics aren’t worth the bother. Lead sprinkler is usually enough. Has ‘em begging for you to pull the stopcock. Which we won’t. Never! Split knee easier on the pulling arm. Makes boiling seem like a trip to the ferries. Blindfolded. Can’t tell who’s who. Buggerer’s get off Scott free. In his left-hand pocket he carried a poem penned by Ramihrdus of Cambrai:

the embalmer’s hands
weigh the body in ounces
employing an age-old science
that separates the body
from the heavenly

On his last visit to the Heretic’s Hospital the etherist pumped him full of aryl halide, his chest ballooning out like a sow’s belly. ‘No need to worry my boy it’ll escape out your anus and through the pores in your neck. Give it a few days, you’ll see’. The orderly wheeled him out in a Chèz Woulant, Eusebius, brother of Caleb and Sophronius working the stopcock like a Black Friar. He was prescribed a mild epagogic and told not to remove the bandage until the wound had scabbed over; then he could scissor it off and throw it into the trash bin behind the Waymart where a man would retrieve it and dispose of it properly; burning it to ashes then dispersing them into the aqueduct. He was to discover years later that the man who retrieved the soiled bandages was none other than Čerenkov the dwarf, then in the employ of Stephen Breen who paid him in heretical names and aryl halide.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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