Selections from “DONT’S” / by -Eva Andrea Bertoglio

Selections from “DONT’S


Engraved on marble at the grave of Christ— the world’s greatest

influencer. This living dead man devoted to memory even while

living; our power crushes us. Can you conceive an eternal mausoleum?

Christ speaks of blood, of a love which consumes every other love.

Do not read his word; influence is indirect. We are writing the world,

reading our lives. Spiritual darkness, once darkness, now light coupled

with fear. You have sinned. You are not God. You lose your sincerity.

The world will say: I am not interested in what you say because you carry

no weight. The greatest among you shall be selfish, an outcast, magnified

by death. The world put into motion certain things which vibrate. Directly

from untoward marriages were evil children, and on and on. A lifetime of

high living, our descendents should be unworthy, it will be our fault.


The person given to image-making is guilty of true representation.

Every representation results in misrepresentation. Irreverent reverence,

a byword in a careless conversation. How much more should we regard

our God with awe? It is not smart to be irreverent, in fact, being irreverent

is the most grievous sin against a good reputation. In danger of judgement,

in danger of the hell of the heart— There are many murderers who have shed blood but are unwilling to pay the price.


If we forget this life, memory will haunt us in the next.

These and a thousand other thoughts will haunt us in

the hereafter if we forget this world and die.


Fear has a variety of meanings in this world

of uncertainty, bloodshed and anxiety. Fear

the darts of the wicked, thy shield of faith

will be our protection, will end the world.


Upon the earth, death. Upon the earth, passion. Elect

a heart longsuffering, even as you transform into a new

creature of unholy recreation.


I was born outside the walled Garden but someone threw me over. I grew within a series of interlocking hedges where I had many brothers, sisters, & mothers. I dreamt of things beyond the textured edge but everyone said it was not safe outside & dug themselves little grooves to curl into, but I had a simple impulse to cut into the earth. We did not keep knives in the garden. One night I began to rip the roses, the rhododendrons, the hydrangeas & the lilacs. Around me, petals drifted like snow. As my hands bled I knew that the pain was a lesson & continued to grapple & dig & bleed from my fingers to my shoulders. No one noticed me, they were all watching a play, the older children were stewards of shadow-casters, flames bent light through iron die cuts, & the actors wore holographic cloaks, each gesture opalescent.

I burrowed through the roots & escaped. I lived on acorns & rainwater until I reached a city by the sea. It had its own walls made out of brick, ivy & morning-glory splayed; there were carts buttery with bread, old seers reading cards, booths selling silk slippers & jars of spice. There were trees & therefore axial symbols. I learned how to write & about money. I learned to love & about betrayal. I learned that people were different from my folk but that they lived within walls too, but their walls were nested inside many other walls. No one had heard of the Garden.

When I returned to the Garden it had changed, there were patterns cut into the topiary, asymmetric & incoherent. My family danced & laughed & told me about life since I had left. I listened & breathed in their redolence. A faerie ring had grown around the entire wall desiccating the grass. When I left, I looked at the disrupted maze & knew that there was no home for me to return to, & there never was, but you knew that already.

                                                              HOUSE ON A HILL

Mother and Father chose the house for the imposing figure it cut across the skyline. Spired and trimmed with lacy ridges, cobalt blue, many-storied. Inside the house, we had a transfiguring parlor, each child thought it was theirs alone: a playhouse, an ice rink, a grove. We thought it was our own secret treasure, but all the while the parlor shifted and warped time, slowly digesting us as we played. Sandra’s hair fell out beneath her theatrical wigs, Michael’s feet swelled within his skates so he couldn’t take them off. And I vomited stonefruit whole. I cannot say how we knew that we could not leave, but Sandra, Michael, and I were each confronted by the door melting away into the wall, as if we had each been born into the room. We writhed and cried for our mother. But by then she had taken to wearing silk robes printed with snakes and vines, humming songs in languages she had never spoken. She and Father fought over her madness, for it’s inexplicability and whether or not Mother was in collusion with it. Mother showed father her hands, how her palm lines had deepened and blued. How could she deny that she was hostage in a body that no longer belonged to her? Father tried to shake the convulsions from her, tried to invoke God, roar at the thief inside of her. God was not involved in the order within this house, but rather something else entirely, something that made the wallpaper peel like flesh, the clapboards slicken with oil, and the windows fog over. For months the house tormented us with its tessellations. Eventually Sandra and Michael and I were all trapped inside the parlor, unable to see each other, but able to hear every scream and whimper. We never cried for Father, alone yet together in our enchanted parlor. We knew he would burn us all alive before he would rescue us. Then one day, he did.


In response to your request for a surrealist tutor,

I must urge you to reconsider. This is not like boot camp or the ACT, this will be rigorous and significant. I may give you a box with puzzle pieces from many incomplete sets and tell you to build an image by the time the blue sand is emptied from the upper chamber of an hourglass. I will give you a copy of your favorite book from childhood in pieces and then tell you to remake it and paste it together. You will take pictures from your Grandparent’s wedding (or really any historical images where there is ostentatious dress and a stiff posture) and replace all the heads and hands with mandibles and pincers from a biology text. I will lead you in trances where we will dance and scream to witch music while muted films play on. I will of course require you to sleep in a dream mask so that your dreams cannot be siphoned away (Note: if someone tries to steal your dreams, snatch them back and eat them. Dreams have the consistency of cotton candy and taste like grassy water).We will study and worship the overlooked oracles of the unconscious, we will reject amorality and fascist fantasy (we do not judge the content of our shadows but we endeavor to interrogate them, to not let them rest). This tutelage is not reversible, it will mark you forever, it will not keep you alive.

If you are still unafraid, or at least more passionate than you are fearful, you may climb up my fire escape and rap on the window. I will be eager to begin.

-Eva Andrea Bertoglio

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