In Hebrew Yirat Adonai (יראת ה ') means ‘fear of the Lord.’ It is what you feel when you are standing before angels, God, or the monstrous voice of the burning bush. That fear is not cringing or loathsome but a reverential awe. When the prophet Elijah went to speak with God he covered his face with his mantle and trembled. It was not the monstrous winds or fire that preceded the Lord but the terrific silence of His presence that made Elijah shake.

(I am wrathful and wind it up
inside of me, a tight cord
to strangle you with if I had
the chance but between us
is blood. It is childish red
of second-day-period
and when older, burgundy
aged well. Dry, the smell of
salt-peter. You know that smell.
You have pushed your fingers
between my lips.)

In the Book of Ezekiel cherubs have multiple wings and four faces: lion, ox, human, eagle. Elijah bore witness to winds splitting mountains, their rocky entrails strewn upon the countryside, earthquakes making rubble of greatness. When the Divine appears to mankind we cannot look upon it, we fall to our knees, cover our faces and weep.

(Monstrously you claw
and finger me.
Counting vertebrae you say,
“You’re such an ice queen,
so cold and unfathomable.
Stay here with me, I love you”
and lick your teeth
with pink-red tongue.)

In Medieval Europe concepts of fear and terror were associated with the Lord. The monstrous was the Divine. In Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 God is described as a fire-breathing creature paralleling descriptions of Leviathan in the Book of Job. From these associations was born the cult of the monstrous in Renaissance Italy. Inhuman creatures peeked out from illuminated manuscripts and frightened audiences in sacred plays. 

(With you I dream of murder.
Of crushing your trachea
so you die without breath.
This is a form of drowning,
which I find pleasing. 
Time with you asphyxiates. 
My mind convulses, trembles,
and is carried away. 
I have always loved swimming.
I tried to swim in you.)

Medieval and Early Modern Christians argued that monsters were expressions of Divine power. They were portents, omens, proof of God's wrath and a reminder of human frailty. Liber monstrorum, an eighth-century text, speaks of monsters as revelations of God, reflections of His ineffable purpose. He sends them to us because He loves us. We cannot look at them, we cannot look at Him.

(You watch me eat, 
drink and consume.
Between teeth you crow,
"You’re always hungry.
I cannot fathom my
body changing. I cannot fathom
putting anything into it. Here,
let me put my fingers in you—”)

Nicolas of Cusa wrote of God as posse: absolute possibility—what may yet come, always. His love, as a result, is a tide. It is the ocean above you, a grasping obsession like death. It is also a paradox. At once infinitely good and beautiful yet also jealous and mercurial. God is full of anguish and disappointment. He is wrathful. He murders those who do not follow His ways.

(A summer day I travel
to you and arriving I want to run
but don’t know how, so stay.
We don’t eat but drink.
Or I drink, because you’re afraid
to put things inside of you.
We sit on pristine couches
in a pristine living room then go
to your pristine bed where you hung
up post-cards of things I like. 
You thought it romantic but
I’m too wrathful and busy
memorizing your ceiling
to think of romance.)

The cult of the monstrous allowed creatures to climb off pages and become stone and position themselves in gardens, cling to the sides of church roofs. Creatures born with misshapen, grotesque bodies bearing the faces of man. St. Augustine said that monsters are descendants of Adam and therefore have souls worthy of salvation and of receiving God's grace. God allows such monsters to be born so they may be heralds of evil.

(You undo clothes while
talking about your activism.
My bra dismantled in public, 
hunch back I walk with care
to the bathroom.
“Let me put my fingers
in you my ice queen,
my beautiful snow queen.
Let me touch you, let me, let me—
I love you I love you I love you”)

Divine love is inhuman, deeply physical, and without consent. We do not say, ‘yes God, you can love me.’ We are loved without His asking. When Mary received the Word made flesh in her womb she saw Gabriel, destroyer of Jerusalem before whom Daniel fell prostrate in terror. Mary did not weep or cover her head. She was merely confused for the Lord said she was chosen but the Lord did not ask for permission. St. Augustine said, monsters are the heralds of evil and so are the heralds of God. 

(You push my hand between
your thighs saying, “Like this, 
oh baby, like this, oh yeah.”
I explain exhaustion and work, 
I'm tired, stressed, drunk.
I have to be up early, it's so late. 
You take my fingers to fuck yourself.
When you weigh pros and cons
of someone being on top of you
it’s always easier to say yes. 
Later you laugh, “our first time, it’s
so funny, you fell asleep so quickly
after. Isn’t that so funny?”
I am empty when I am full of you.) 

St. Augustine, like all Church thinkers, was influenced by Plato who wrote of the Divine and called it thaumazein (wonder) and deinon(terror). The Divine is beyond humanity. 

(I am not good at saying no.
This makes me monstrous.)

Sara is a Toronto writer. She has an essay published with Electric Litertaure and two poems forth coming in the March edition of Occulum. Sara also has two short stories published in Lost in Thought. She co-founded a literary zine, The Grimoire, which was dedicated to uplifting the voices of marginalized writers.