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Jan/Feb 2010 Fiction

How To Mummify Ice

by Joseph Cassara


I.

When Anita Bryant found him, her initial reaction was to put him in the foyer. Not everyone would have one, and the way his arms jutted out could certainly be of use, maybe as a hat rack. At least until he melted. Yes, the melting was more of the problem. Maybe it was in poor taste. Maybe it was bad for the overall feng shui. Maybe Papa Falwell had a disdain for neo-taxidermy, but Nancy Reagan would simply love it, and that made her feel justified.

 

II.

Walt Disney even did it to himself before it was en vogue.

 

III.

Fearing he would turn to ice like the rest, Chopin refused the engagement of Jane Wilhelmina Stirling. It's not you, he said. It's so me, baby.

She didn't eat it up.

1848 was a quiet year. His sharded fingers resisted. Guildhall. The Boethian notes shattered mid-air. Then his hands and then his nose and then his ankles and then arms and then his chest: sharp, diatonic tracks in mid-scale.

 

IV.

Lord Byron was often seen staring at himself in a mirror with a cube of ice in hand. For Shakespeare, it was the Alpine rheum, for Byron, the ice-oceans.

But dear,—he wrote in a letter to Mary Shelley—this turning of the body to ice is the quiet indignation, the sorrow, the efforts of the artist fully and physically manifest. Why has it not yet occurred upon me?!

Byron died before showing any clear symptoms of turning—no frozen limbs, no melted knee caps—though his obsession with the phenomenon is not overlooked by scholars who point to the famous line: Who listens once will listen twice / This bitch's heart not yet of ice.

 

V.

Eleanor Roosevelt was finger-fucking Frida Kahlo in Puerto Vallarta when it happened. First, the frostbitten clitoral stalactite, then the chilled vulva, thawed only by the warm, lesbionic touch. It is rumored among some that the experience inspired Kahlo to paint Números 43 y 44, the former which portrays a baby Kahlo sucking the milk from, and biting the nipple tassel off, an indigenous woman's breast while the woman simultaneously grimaces and gives birth to a severed head. The other portrays chunks of assorted, lacerated melons turning to ice.

 

VI.

Ankhesenamun, the Royal Wife and half-sister of King Tutankhamen, didn't know what to do when the Pharaoh succumbed to the mysterious illness. His body was pallid and chill. He cried while being fellated, complaining of sharp pains down the shaft of his cock—translated by Egyptologists directly as “tips of crescent moons protruding into flesh." He cried after sex fearing contamination—viz.: algae of Nile consuming the veins. He cried whenever "Fast Wagon" by Tracy Chapman came on the radio. King Tut turned slowly, gently crying himself cubic and unaware. Alas, even the Egyptians knew how to mummify ice.

 

VII.

But he was not the first. Anthopological data points to Manko Qhuntpaq, King of the Inkas, who slowly transformed into ice after Princess Qoya Ch'aska refused his love. After surgically removing his heart and burying it at the base of Mt. Apu Kon Titi Wiraqocha as the ultimate sacrifice to the mountain gods, the ice spread from his empty chest cavity like elongated Amazon vines, attaching to each and every hair follicle. At night, he would awake, confusing the arctic trails of consumption for the residual memory of Qoya Ch'aska's touch. Right before he completely iced, in a moment of hysteria, he invented the color Hotpa Inka by mixing his own feces with the menstrual blood of an obese iguana, smeared it across his cheekbones, and finally permitted himself to cry.

 

VIII.

Before turning, Angi Xtravaganza performed at a drag bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called The Cock Ring. He was a fierce little Latin thing in those clickity-clack 'lettos. Angi turned slowly. First, it was the tips of his fingers. His icicle nails, his gelid, thinning hair. Over years and years. The Out-of-Estrogen: Phyto-Estroven! 30-mg pills he took made the ice form even quicker. He starred in a reality series called, How Do I Look?, which documented the horrifying details of his turning, from the cold sweats to the liver failure. The question was never when it would finally end, but how to tell his estranged mother: a quiet, cat-hoarding, South Bronx native who believed that the ice was a punishment and that Jesus had the power to save.

 

IX.

Mary Magdalene just couldn't fucking believe it. Someone even sent her a fruit basket.

 

X.

Susan Sontag even mentioned a bout with neuropathy of the fingers in her autobiographical essay "Ice As A Metaphor." The doctors told her to get fresh air, that everyone suffers from Disambiguous Extremiticus Neuropathy at some point in their life. Cupid's arrows, the young nurses said while rubbing petroleum jelly into the sugar cookie cracks of her skin, are nothing more than chemical interactions, diseractions, and neural aplumbulations in the emotive centers of the brain. The result is manifest in the peripheral nerves, dear. The soreness abates with time.

It was a cold February. Her fingers were so numb, she couldn't button her jacket alone.

 

XI.

No one knows how Mother Courage felt.

 

XII.

Pushkin and Dostoevski were exiled in Siberia. Even Cleopatra was said to have carved her own ice sculptures with the frozen tips of her nipples before becoming ice herself. And Echo, too, whose icy calls haunt the physical world. The physical world was rimy for Nietzsche and Benjamin Franklin and Monet. The frost went straight to their heads. Who else? Joan of Arc? Dante? What good were the flames then?

 

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