(c) 2015, Livingston Woolf
And so I married. On our wedding night, I made love to one who never truly was alive. Or wasn’t she? Certainly, he was not born of the cleaving of flesh. I wasn’t ashamed. I did what I had to. What did I want? Love. The satisfaction of the flesh and the spirit. Yes, I dared to call it that: love.
The golden ring on her finger, the one I gave him on our wedding day, grew broader or thinner as the ring finger changed. My lover is change itself.
At nineteen, they told me I must marry. I had only recently returned from my very strange days in Moscow. It was the early days of my studies and I had qualified as a rabbi. But it was the other studies, the secret ones that gave me my true education. None of that would have happened if not for Rabbi Reznik.
Vitaly Reznik. A strange man. A strange meeting. When we first laid eyes on each other we were both completely naked. I was submerged to my chest. Reznik was not at first. He entered from the preparation area. I was already in the mikveh. I had submerged myself the proscribed three times and my beard, hair and pe’ot were running with water. There was water in my eyes.
Dimly, I saw a figure enter. Strange as it is to say, the figure seemed to have a faint, greenish glow emanating from him. It was like the light in the air before a heavy storm. I wiped the water from my eyes and stared at him. He was staring back. A thin flame ran under my face.
The man submerged himself. Once. Twice. Three times. He said the required prayer. “Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha’olam asher kideshanu b‘mitvotav v’tsivanu al ha’atevillah.” (“Blessed are you oh Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the immersion.”)
He told me, sometime later, that he too had seen a greenish glow. My aura. “Contrary to myth, Yaakov, not everybody has an aura. Only those with a profoundly metaphysical nature.” So he coopted me. We became teacher and student. And we were lovers for a time.
But he knew I couldn’t stay in Moscow forever. He didn’t wish to hold me against my will. He sent me home with secrets. And power. Power to control my destiny. Or so I believed.
And so I married. Just like they wanted me to. The golem was my dream lover. A construction of desire, magic and deception. But I should have known.
What Reznik taught me was the apocrypha of desire. All of the manifestations. They are all linked, the appetites and their forms. Clay becomes one. River mud is one. But there are infinite others. Secrets bring power. And the loss thereof. What I married was love, ambition, rage, my intimate self, and a laughing G-d.
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Livingston Woolf is a queer Jew, father, grandfather, author, fiction reader and opera lover. He lives in NYC, which they haven’t blown away yet.
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