The Ancient Modern

The Orgy /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

I’m looking out from my small, secluded life into a great banquet hall where an orgy is taking place. It’s a stupendous feast of food and sex and entertainment. There are people pushing past me to get inside, but I’m hesitant. I’m lingering at the door.

So much flashing of jewelry, of sleek hair and skin, gold of watches and earrings, polished leather, sequins and glitter. I’m transfixed by the sight of so much confidence, by the varieties of self-abandonment. It’s a kind of glory: a magnetic energy generated as each tries to get the greatest amount of enjoyment from the feast.

Why don’t I rush in to join them? Am I just waiting for my chance? Am I trying to find the right justification for such a breach of my conscience? Maybe I’m too proudthinking I won’t go in until I’m guaranteed a bit of recognition. I deserve some of that pleasure. But I don’t go in… not just yet. I’m holding back to observe.

I have friends in there. Some of them are joining the fray very carefully, straying at the sides of the room where the revelry is more restrainedmore dignified. But it’s all so loud and blinding. Eyes and ears get accustomed to such an abuse of their purpose. I fully admit: I want to have my senses saturated like this. I want to be welcomed and assaulted and thrown into the dance. And yet…

I can’t help but intuit something invisible, hidden and spreading. I believe it’s disease—an illness like anger and anxiety. Even in the short time I’ve been watching, the crowd isn’t the same group of revelers. Some have disappeared. Where did they go? Why is the anger increasing?

They’re calling for more. More bodies. More ways of indulgence. More experience. More love. More freedom. More youth.

What do they mean by these words? I don’t understand how they’re using these words.

More youth.

They’re calling for freshness and innocence to join theminnocence is one of the few pleasures they can’t have anymore. Therefore, corruption of innocence is a substitute. And this growing anxiety… is this why they’re calling for more people to join them? The party is becoming a frenzy. Fear is spreading. Fear that the party will end abruptly, and soon. The lights snuffed out… the music stopped… the deluge of food and wine suddenly gone.

Faster! Harder! Quicker! More kinds, more tastes, more novelty, more violation, quick!

Quickly… before the dawn… before this glorious illusion of autonomy is stripped off of us. And only bones, and desire, and broken chairs remain in the morningafter the party. Indulgence is helpless against the entrance of Peace and Stillness.


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2019 by Joshua Alan Sturgill

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