“Being full of holes and dents, the corpse could talk out of any part of its body. ‘Now,’ said the corpse through the back of its head, ‘I shall tell you a story.’
The Happy Corpse
A pilgrimage is a solo walk. A creeping, in private thought, to a ‘place of asking.’ The air around a site of pilgrimage is thick with questions posed to a specific, but no less empty, corner of the ether. Having exhausted the wisdoms of proximate family and friends you head instead for higher powers, frankly caring little if they are breathing or not. A pilgrimage then, might be a last resort, an odd holiday. A collective hope. Drowning out other noise and focusing on hearing a single, specific voice that emanates (you suppose or are told) from remnant bits of someone who knew better. Someone who has been there and done it but then passed on, leaving their teeth behind, buried in the bricks.
We like to cling on to the bits. Perhaps because we know, deep down, that ghosts are nothing but bones are something. We have listened at a wall or door and definitely come away with answers. We have screamed into streams and felt better – so, let us now listen closely to teeth and to flesh and to skulls as they crack open. Let us ask that bog body to spit it out before it sinks; or lean an ear to the tomb side and wait for echoes; or absorb the song of the stretched-out corpus as it lies long on the forest floor – taking note of the change of key as its edges fur and it fuses, finally, with the wet ground beneath – becoming itself a heavy wooded door to listen at.
Then let us crouch there, hoping against hope, that we like what we hear.