Cover Photo: Monsters of Want by Emily Byrd

Monsters of Want

I don’t know what I want. Very rarely do. You would think that would be something primal, innate – inescapable even.

Humans are monsters of want.

It should have nothing to do with knowing oneself—

I should want deeply, concretely.

Meaning and other nebulous cognitive cave dwellers can be uncertain:

Random particles and combinations forming and breaking in unrecognizable forms.

But want?

Want should scream like a child under the cold waters of baptism.

Superego eats the id and no longer knows on whose behalf it acts.

It holds my gaze steady to the pulpit, my legs perfectly parallel to each other, knees bent around the pew at an angle so austere I imagine they are broken.

I feel nothing about their brokenness.

Calm abandon; a clean button down on the placid 98.6 of my body,

My collar smooth, folded in a businesslike embrace of a blue silk tie.

My face set in lines of vacant optimism.

The baby wailed with life;

The preacher grinned to hide his embarrassment for the child.

It so clearly didn’t understand the constructed meaning of the moment.

Sarah hadn’t come.

I wonder if our child would have cried.

I keep dreaming about it—

The stream of holy water growing stronger and stronger as our child screamed

With want

For air—

Want for life, life, life.

The preacher in my dream had the same knowing, shame-tinged smile as the man in front of me now, in these waking hours.

I had introduced Sarah to want;

To the knowledge of the good and the evil found in the bottom of a bottle.

The good of endless nights full of irretrievable memories

The evil of the morning whose memory is ever present.

The morning when she realized our want had created life and destroyed it.

I had given her the tools for both, and now I know far too goddamn much about my potential for good and evil.

I want to want no more. The baptism is over. We recite old lines anew.

Relief comes in the void.