Writing by Pauline Vercaza // Photograph by Catarina Inacio
“In my desire to be nude,
I clothed myself in fire.”
– José Garcia Villa
Do you ever wonder what it is like to see yourself through another’s eyes for a day? To be detached from what makes you you and to be attached to the mystery of the new you?
Often, we must resort to forgetting everything we have become in order to appreciate what we really are. Often, we must burn. It is as if we are too blind and too oblivious that we have a DNA strand inside our bodies that distinguishes us from everyone else. We are all unique, literally and figuratively. But there are some days a truth can even feel like a lie. What if you are merely just a hollow shell of a long lost DNA that over time has depreciated its significance and has ultimately devolved into dysfunction?
If feels like madness, being constantly in the middle of a tug-of-war between wanting and not wanting to be yourself. There are instances where you will catch a glance of yourself in the mirror and realise it is worthy of love and happiness too. But then, you start burrowing deeper and deeper and you cannot find yourself because it has been ruthlessly buried by the catastrophes of war. They say you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. It happens. Life is strange. We are only baffled because it takes longer for some to realise.
I move along and it follows. The shadow will always find a place to tear its hole. The mask is not working either. It is no longer good enough to keep me trudging. Others can see the edges burning and whenever they point that out to me, my cloister is disturbed and I have to coax them this is merely another freak show, you can all go back to your seats now.
Then there are days too that are gravely excruciating to bear, the whole energy is snuffed out and drained even though I am just lying here motionless. Maybe I am both verbs: I am lying. Beneath the vast cerulean sky I watch this frightening world opened up to me. Sometimes I can hear it call my name screeching loud and it takes me a while to realise my name is my name. There are numerous variations people call me by, and each variation is a different dress to wear, to cue how am I going to act.
But late at night, I become nameless. The time blurs everything around me and I am travelling through space, satiating the vivid taste of each memory I come across. It feels so brave to watch myself become slowly unbridled, spilling every bit of beauty and ugliness on a piece of paper. I stand and bare myself naked, flesh and blood, burning endlessly. I rekindle the fire amid the pouring sorrow of the clouds.
“Is there ever a right way to burn?” I still find myself asking.
I don’t know. I don’t know the end. I don’t know if I will ever be ready to face it when it finally comes. But I would like to still think the stake where Saint Joan of Arc was perished into ashes is mine too, the stake where Lazarus was gorged by fire is mine too.[share]