Acid thrown in the face of someone who wanted to leave, to learn, to show herself in the world.
Acid on bulimic teeth.
Acid on little paper tabs. Put one on your tongue in the bathroom, near where you once brushed past the ouija board’s lurkier entities.
Acid green. Seafoam green. Little-sprouts green. All the 99 Beautiful Names of Green you’re praying in the interim between when Spring feels possible, and when it actually arrives. Go to the thrift store and try on new skins to molt into: silk skins, sequin-skins, skins of parties past and small revolutions yet to come. As the lead roof of Notre Dame melts in rivers down the inside of its stone walls, unknot the scarf whose beauty someone forgot to notice. Try it all on. Slit the old and make new pockets out of scraps and sleeves. Find a way.
Acid brightens and dulls. Change the frame, change the meaning. Check in with the parts who’ve given up and the parts who worry anything other than surrender invites disaster. Acid gleams the tarnish away. Acid sharpens the taste of this bland old sauce. Balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Mirin, cider vinegar, tart oxalis greens and sorrel. Cut through same-same to different. Turn towards, turn away. Notice the keen edge of change.
I eat two pieces of toast, drink some tea, then start asking the Tarot cards. Tell me about X. Tell me about Y. There’s a lot of acid in these cards. Skanky swords and shattered glasses, rats shitting in wine cups, a sorrowful horse, a bull’s corpse skewered through with grief. These images don’t fuck around: they say there are ways that come out of ruin and head straight back into it. Stagnation and betrayal and self-betrayal are all real. Don’t pretend not to know what you know. The acid in the card says, No. Says, Beware. The acid in the cards says, There is a way, and this is not it. The acid in the cards makes the sweetness more noticeable, the effort required to keep going more pleasurable. Sure, this will be a lot of work, but I can do it with the help of others. Sometimes the keenness of the sword yields insight and new space.
This breath, this acidic taste in the mouth, from maple syrup chai.
Acid commentary: not for me, not so early, not before I’ve first taken time to realize where I am and what is up.
Acid bleaches, melts, brightens.
Acid hurts, cleanses, reveals.
The shine of clean teeth.
The gleam of clean bones.
The splendor of mossless marble slabs in the sun.
I walk in galoshes and seek out places where mud reaches halfway up my calves. I walk through puddles to bring back the orange shine of plastic. Mud walk, quicksand, rivulets of snowmelt pouring under what’s left of permafrost. Raven feathers on soggy pine needles. The dogs charge up the trail, paws sinking and re-finding footing where they can. Everything is provisional, forming itself into patterns that will last through the seemingly stable summer. Holes and creekbeds. Mud-flats and vernal pools. Frogs croak like ravens, but aren’t.
Acid rain. What will happen to the lead fumes and cathedral ashes over Paris? Will they accelerate the melting of other buildings around the city? Timber-sludge. Gargoyle-bits. Yesterday I watched in horror as the spire fell, as the roof burned, as the whole edifice went from same-same-of-course to defunct hero, then came back as the gutted, burning heart of the world. Blackened. Firewater leaching down into new puddles, riverine. Some cathedral-ruin creatures will find opportunity here. Someone with a stiff-soft brush will be cleaning stones for lifetimes. Acid-wash. Acid-prevention. Acid-induced. Maybe they will put up a Quonset hut there? Maybe the heart of the city will be off-limits for many years. Maybe it will need to move elsewhere for a while.
The stories about visiting. The old, acid-eaten photographs. The carefully antacid paintings. We make our stories new each moment. This culture knows how to make marks on the world, and few of them are majestic. Stop frittering for a while and build something you care about. Stop being only-selved and see what your hands can build with others. Voices rise in beautiful discord. Bodies move in collaboration, shifting rubble into form. Cleaning bricks is like this: shift the pile from one end of the yard to the other, chiseling old mortar off in great dusty chunks. You are the acid, eating off what’s not needed anymore. It falls away. The neat stack on the far side promises new growth, unimpeded by ruin. Someone will be cleaning cathedral-stones for a long time.
Relic of the nave.
Relic of the lead roof.
Relic of the pews, of the windows melted into rivers, then stilled.
Relic of our ideas of permanence.
What will this generation add to the pile of fixes and wounds that is Notre Dame? We will find some version of ourselves to encode as truth. We will knit-bomb the ruins. We will crowd-source the funds. We will find a way.
Acid-infused architectural plans and pelletized smoke.
Acid-reversing dumpsters with high-security sensors.
Acid-green jumpsuits for an international crew of workers.
The sun will rise again. The sun will rise again.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now