Ritual A - Cut the Cord - Week 3
Updated: Oct 14
Ritual A – Week 3 – Cut the Cord
Steps for Ritual:
1. Each time I will a. choose a place, in various levels of exposure to others, to perform the ritual, and b. choose an object meant to represent my tie to colonial institutions of control and my complicity with those institutions. I will wear the janoi thread throughout the day from morning onward.
a. Today, I found a patch of grass on the north side of the Ōtākou Harbor near a place anglicized as Bloody Jack’s Point that could also be called Tuhawaiki Point (though there are other places with this name).
b. I stuck again with the Oxford Annotated Bible
2. Once at place, remove shirt so that my torso is only covered by the thread draped across my chest from the left shoulder.
3. Prior to removing thread from my body to tie myself to the object, I chant two verses from the Yoga Vāsistha, the Rsih Vāsistha, according to my mother’s family “gōtra,” being the oldest recorded ancestor on that side. The verses read like this:
Yatah sarvāni bhūtāni pratibhānti sthitāni ca
Yatraivopaśamam yānti tasmai satyātmane namah.
From which all beings shine forth and are sustained, where alone they attain dissolution, to that Truth, I bow.
Aham baddho vimuktahsyām itiyasyāsti niścayah
Nātyantam-ajño no tajjñah so’smin śastré dhikāravān.
I am bound, let me be liberated. I understand I am not totally ignorant, nor do I possess Truth. This one is qualified to study.
4. Remove janoi from body and use to tie part of my body to colonial implement. Bible for today.
5. Recite/read first of two poems chosen for the day’s ritual.
Today, I chose my own poem, “Morning Chant: Scatter” written about scattering my Bapu’s ashes a week after his suicide. Today would have been his 66th birthday.
6. With a pair of scissors, cut the Janoi (sacrilege) while repeating Bhanu Kapil’s question from The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers “Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother?” five times.
7. After the thread is cut, read the second of the day’s chosen poems.
Today, that is two poems: p. 40 of Dawn Lundy Martin’s Discipline wherein the first half of the last sentence (“I waited all my life for my father to die and when he finally did I felt empty.”) became the first line of my own poem “Effigy.” Because “emptiness” did not cut it.
Bonus: Today I sang happy birthday to Bapu.
8. Sit in silence for 10 minutes.
9. Retie the janoi. Write.
People passed by behind the bushes. Perhaps heard me. Same with boats. Sunny. Sun shone. I added happy birthday to Dad. Also, I returned to recite a few lines twice when first tying myself to the Bible. “To you I have been tethered, in mind and speech and deed. You claimed your dominion and I assented.”
When I invite you, in Bapu,
you dominate my consciousness.
At some point, the ritual
ceased being about untethering
from coloniality and insisted on,
still, orbiting my untethering from you.
Little spiders live in this grass,
were crawling on this notebook
and undoubtedly on this human flesh
too light for me to detect.
In what ways is detaching from you
Detaching from my comfortable
The language doesn’t flow right
After these rituals. Walk.
Walk. Walk. Walk. Then write.
Trust. Trust. Walk. Stay with it. Go.
Without leaving none can reach.
Assent and consent and my reading of the definitions wrong. As if to assent were to relent, the leaf wilting sheltered too long from rain. What brain summons a cord torn and thrown to an elsewhere? What validates these mandates? Interrupting the noisy silence of traffic behind me and a boat’s engine revving close to land, something plops in the water. Looking up, I see only the ripples where I assume something fell, but perhaps emerged—a fish plucking a fly or licking air. Ripples are all I see, and I want pattern, unable to differentiate waves caused by falling from the radius of rising. I guzzle water like a greedy American. I chant shirtless like a man too long gone from a gun run country. I am no Hare Krishna, like the white woman’s son in recovery, not marked by ochre robes or a troupe with whom I coup. I am no beige connoisseur of Eastern Thought. Though I once was, and even desired to be, arrogant and bind as the gurus that litter the self-help shelves I love. Arrogant and blind and plushly right for the echo chambers of those others who lounge with me on chaises. There are whole worlds out there, beyond the orb that ties you, beyond the myths that govern our musculature. If actin acted with myosin, what would contract? Without my sin, what O would I act in? Bapu, I will not fear failure as you taught, nor will I worship it. I will not abandon those my assent abandoned. No longer. Fail, yes, countless, endless, and. Today, I shortened conversation with Tessa, my mind, wandering immediately after the ritual to observe the nothing-to-note of the grass blade. The nothing that considers the air wrapping everything on all a blade’s side. Until crushed burned potted scattered ate. Seven the years since you caved to unrelenting voices. Prescient you torment in the age of Twitter President. Your craze in the end was a sane response to nnow. Your abuse before a failure of imagination. One disowned repeatedly. Happy birthday. I love you. I’m sorry. I will fail better. I will fail beyond betters.