Three Fragments

libido spectandi

the convulsionaries of saint medard appear before him, their bodies covered in wounds. their deacon dead. the men drag the body behind them on a funeral bier. the women gather at the grave site, clumps of hair clotted in their hands—patches torn out with the scalp attached. their cheeks riven with scratches, their breasts bruised. the women fling themselves to the ground, bodies prostrate before the grave, limbs flailing into seizure. as the men drag the deacon nearer, their heels hit the ground hard. the rhythm, a dirge driven into the dirt. the women succumb to ecstasies, eating the earth around the tomb, calling out for cures. they bark and mew, leap in the air, strike themselves with axes, spades, hammers, swords. showing one another how they do not bleed. the women twist their nipples with pliers, stick their breasts with pins, until they look like barbed and armored beasts. waiting for the men to trample them into earth.