Push your face deep into a soft towel and say three times, “Where have you been?” Hang it in the winter air just outside a window or door so you can easily reach and grab it. In the morning make yourself very warm while naked under a blanket drinking hot liquids. Reach outside and grab the soft towel hanging in the winter air. Immediately sit on the floor underneath the blanket like a tent and wrap the towel around one body part. Sit quietly and still for a few minutes with eyes closed, locating the temperatures on your skin. Light a small candle in your tent, press the towel to your body and ask, “Where have you been? ” Write as fast as you can; write without pause, write without thinking, trusting the language will find its way. Repeat this ritual for a week, wrapping the towel around a different body part each morning. Winter is in the towel; winter is in the legendary force of the imagination. The next week, repeat the ritual, but hold an ice cube in your mouth while writing. The week after that, repeat the ritual as it has been with the winter towel, tent blanket, candle, ice cube in mouth, but now you add an ingredient. Make it something you can do under your blanket tent.
CAConrad is the author of the forthcoming book Amanda Paradise (Wave Books, 2021). Their book While Standing in Line for Death won a 2018 Lambda Book Award. They also received a 2019 Creative Capital grant and a Pew Arts and Heritage Foundation Fellowship, the Believer Magazine Book Award, and the Gil Ott Book Award. They regularly teach at Columbia University in New York City and Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam.
This ritual was originally published in the Ignota Diary 2020.