Superman Does Not Pray

He is empty, having given up time to move his body between another body and damage to a body cowering behind his body that does not hurt or die or burn. Dense as a black hole, if you were to hold him, he would fall through your fingers, collapse the floor around you, his inertia, his weight, full of the universe’s memories. Superman is empty of everything but time; that is all he gives. Clark, a thought trying to manifest a body. There is no Clark. There never was, Clark, an idea that faded away, a dead name, a body no one recognizes, an idea only Lois loves, and mother, and father who cannot see beyond the mountaintop. There is no need for prayer, a deed to keep his conscience quiet, serene as ice, happy to be in the sun. Each listen is a prayer. Each time he puts his body between danger and another body is a prayer. Superman’s body is a prayer his father threw, hands up, the sky falling, a prayer to where skies will not hold his son’s body, where no one cares if you’re from a farm in Kansas, or work at a shitty newspaper in a city by the sea. Here perhaps, happiness, in being a body free of gravity, free of a planet’s expectation. How kind of his father to pray for him, a body that does not hurt or die or burn, a body that spends all its time wondering how to be free of itself so he can be the idea of a body in love, softening in the sun, a warm hand on a shoulder, the pull of a story stirring him onward.

Cassandra Whitaker (she/they) is a trans writer from Virginia whose work has been published in Michigan Quarterly Review, Beestung, The Mississippi Review, Conjunctions, and other places.  They are a member of the National Book Critics Circle and an educator.

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