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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2018 - Vol. 15, Issue 4


written by



Written By


Every few seasons or so Superman sequesters himself in a private sanctuary along with a ball of kryptonite. The kryptonite disables him. It makes him kin to those desperate bodies with whom he is surrounded and to whom he has made himself devoted. For him this is the retreat into the monk’s cave, the visionary’s desert fast, the sauna chained shut. A confrontation with the self, a self raw and trembling on the cusp of the void. He clears his calendar and enters the chamber. The kryptonite pulses before him, green beyond green, a chill crystalline eye. Over the course of days he drives himself nigh to that eye, centimeter on agonized centimeter. Bared and mortal he presses himself impossibly forward, against the will of every cell in his screaming body. This ascetic Superman is the naked, weeping Jesus, revealed beneath his impenetrable powers. Weak. Ill. Tormented.


Desperate and wanting, bargaining with himself for it to end.


Wrestling the mind that wanders toward Superwoman, toward all harms done by his crimefighting mis-action, toward those he has lost. He approaches the thing on hands and knees, crawling, slithering, the great spandexed man moving on his quarry like a lizard. Weaker and weaker he becomes. The sequence of time lengthens, each extension of muscle becoming a parabola of decreasing possibility. Uncounted hours of ecstatic anguish pour over him their horrible, caustic fluid. The radioactivity of the rock swims in his veins, depopulating his will, his memories, his identity. Draped there before it he feels that he has grown molten, that his body has begun to glow with the absinthe color of this rock of his homeland, synonymous with sleep, grave, and unbecoming. And so, mustering a single finger to reach, through black holes of infinite space, quavering, to grace so delicately with sparse fingertip that poisonous unplace of weariness that is the rock of Krypton—a gesture that sends a shock of emptiness through his abraded nervous system—he falls and rolls away from that vacuity, curling into the sensation of limbs flooding again with their humanoid blood. He is of himself again. And for a time, until his return to this sanctuary of undoing, Superman will be spared that to which all others lay subject. The body.

Ocean is a disabled writer living in the mists of the northwest coast. His poetry and fiction is known for its resuscitation of the mythic and contribution to hypnogogic literary animism.

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