Nature is Satan's Church
It was like the clatter of acorns
falling on a cabin roof in a wood.
He said it was whimsy the way
he bombarded me with drawings
of deer and foxes, called me La Merle –
but I think he had me in his sights.
I didn’t flinch when he thrust his filmy eyes
up-close, gathering information.
You see with your brain, he said,
as he stumbled the length of my spine.
I let him track the curve of my breasts,
trace the folds of my labia.
In his studio I could hear lambs
squealing, smell ghost of horse in the air.
Blank-faced women were hung
in groups or stacked like whores
against the walls. His trees dripped
tendrils of purple ectoplasm.
When he undressed I couldn’t move
my eyes from his orange hairs
to fix them on the flesh mark
he said had magic powers.
But when he lifted his sweater – revealed
the cavity in his chest – I gasped.
They are angels, he said,
pointing to raindrops on the skylight.
I lay my head in the hollow
of his ribs, listening to the catch
of his echoing breath, the bark of a fox
carried on the wind. This is Eden, he said.
I can’t deny I offered myself:
I’ll do anything, I said. And instantly
it began. First my skin broke out – erupted
in mysterious lumps – then my periods
stopped abruptly – as if he’d stuck scissors
in my ovaries, while I slept, and cut.
Nine months of chaos and grief
and all the time he whispered:
Don’t despair, sing La Merle!
Then one night, under a thunder moon,
he filled a cotton bag with lambs’ wool
and left me in the wood.
I had escaped from Eden –
slipped featureless from his canvas.
The Antichrist, I thought later,
as my broken body healed
and darkness cleared.
At first I couldn’t believe my luck –
but now I try to block it out – play arias
from Rinaldo loud to drown the sound
of acorns clattering on the roof.
After Lars von Trier, Antichrist (2009)
'Snake Dancer'. Painting by Roxanna Bikadoroff, ©2013.
ELIZABETH BARRETT is a poet, writer and lecturer who trained as an English teacher. She received a doctorate in history and politics and now works in education research and as a university lecturer at Hallam University in Sheffield. Her work has included writer-in-residence in schools, prisons and radio, and creative writing tutor and poetry editor. Elizabeth has received several awards for her poetry, including an Arts Council of England Writer’s Award in 2000. She lives in Sheffield.
ROXANNA BIKADOROFF is a widely-published illustrator, painter and writer on esoterica. She lives in Vancouver.