Christen Me Damned
My panic paints red streaks of elbows and choking sobs.
Today I will drown. No matter what I try, drowning
Becomes my life, my teacher - I am the apt pupil.
Dilating now, my pupils, the final straining of my life, a search for light.
A pinpoint light filled with you, unchosen savior, Just a grip on my foot and a pull.
And I pull for air; there will never be enough, never enough air
To breathe in everything. I can’t stop and I will breathe in life and death,
Darkness, the universe itself, sweet down my throat, cool in my lungs
Breathing in your soul as I follow, in your debt, in your footsteps
Walking under the curses you pour over me, treading in the anger
Rising, roaring and chained around my legs, still drowning
In the baptismal font, the embalming fluid, the resurrected love of this life
oh you do know the muse
and understand fully inspiration
iam working backwards and wil not comment on all but on those that strike me
Though I wasn't keeping track, I'm fairly certain I took not a breath until after reading the final word. It's one thing to simply enthrall an audience; you control yours.
"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Bent to the wind, he passed at last through the gates crowned with razor wire into the streets again, their prince returned, and trudged into the shadowy folds of my cloak, his familiar home.
Bent to my task, I studied my old ward. Even now, he wore it like an ill-fitted garment. Long-worn, only a glimpse of vibrant red pushing its way through old and fraying fabric sighed forth any witness to ancient bloom. I fingered the surprising vibrance in this scarecrow, this abiding place for hunger. I mused at a face so plowed and furrowed, fallow ground gone to seed, rank and gross in nature. Mused that still it could register…surprise. It was not surprise of me, for when I followed the track of his eyes, it was upon the girl child suckling at my fingers there that they fixed.
“My playmate.” It was a voice of wet and humid things scuttling below the surface, a voice of decay.
The wine, still warm, pulsed down the dagger's hilt, stained his shirt, and spilled between my fingers and into the street from this broken cask. It flowed in rivulets of dirt and filth, damming here and joining arteries there. The flow increased and the music of greed rose in a crescendo of disharmony as doors flew open and revelers danced together and feasted to an unselfconscious beat of sucking, licking, swallowing…a raw and edgy concert that dared and dared.
I leaned forward in time to the discordant rattle, his unwilling accompaniment, and caught his final notes exhaled into my lips.
“Want is ageless.”
(I just wrote this after a very satisfying re-acquaintance with Mr. Dickens. You may recognize not only "A Christmas Carol," but "A Tale of Two Cities."
The "Hamlet" allusion is in keeping with Mr. Dickens' own affection for the melancholy Dane.)
The shower rages on and I squat under the blast
Trying to muffle the sobs I need to cry into your chest.
My pain is steamed and sterilized and later, when I am spent,
I will crawl from this place to towel, dress, and drive to work what is left
While I live inside each tear I shed, a DNA maiden in saline towers.
I was considerate, of course, and saved hot water for you
And you soap and sing and rinse and whistle
After the deep and satisfying sleep of the guilt-free.
My tears swirl in the suds at your feet
And I am washed away
As you reach for a towel to dry
The filth you cannot dislodge.
You are an unscalable tower of a man, a wall fortified against me.
And I covet.
The gleam in your eye reflects the limestone parapet therein, giving me pause
Only to lust for the plunder beyond. I take up arms
And wrap them around you,
Circling you with an embrace, with my kisses, with my desire.
You are assaulted, flanked, and pierced.
And I war.
Your shallow breaths fill the chest that carries home my spoils, you, my captive
Slave. No provision for a formal triumph and just as well.
I could not have waited.
I claim you now, monument to my victory.
My hand at your throat. My teeth at your throat. My blade at your throat.
And walls fall.
I stand before the sink and swing the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet back toward me and dare a glance. It’s not good news. She’s there again, the face I don’t know. I swallow alpha and omega, every letter of the alphabet cupped in my hand, a pharmacological rainbow with an insincere promise at its end.
“I still love you, Hildy” I tell myself. I know I’m lying.
I need to see her today, the lady from the mission down the street. It’s too soon and I’ll see that in her eyes, but she’ll pretend for me and I love her for that. I’ll ask her for food and that will get me invited to the cubicle where she keeps the vouchers. She’ll ask me to sit and I will. She’ll ask me how things are going and I will realize that I have been holding my breath, as though only that question will allow me ever to exhale again and it all floods out and I don’t know where it could all have been stored and I choke on it, the fear and loneliness and worst of all, the sour shame, my shame.
She hears that I can’t drive anymore, my world shrunken to the circumference that I can pedal. She nods when I tell her that I did have to drop out of school after…after the incident we talked about last time. Yes, I filed a police report. She glances down at my hands and I notice their tremors and I will quip, “coffee” and her eyes crinkle into the smirk that I could live on forever.
She can keep the box of green beans and vienna sausages. She is so good to just sit here with me and I talk to stay her hand. When she signs the voucher, it will be time to go. I see her eyes drop to my cleavage and dart away quickly and I know that she wants to look again but she won’t. Instead, she stirs, glances at the clock, and signs the voucher and I feel the oppressive weight of two weeks before me. I can barely carry the grief when I drop the green beans back into the mission donation box behind the building, pocketing the Vienna sausages.
I pause a moment before the mission windows that mirror a reflection of the ghost in my bathroom. I swallow the truth and pedal without thinking of where I will go.
Where have you gone, Brenda? I am thinking about you opening the door of your trailer to the church visitors, naked and irreverant.
I am thinking about you at the motel when you shared candy with the children when their father ran away after beating their mother, your neighbor.
Why did you punch out the window that one time...I never asked.
I fed your hunger, and sometimes, I only pretended to listen. I know that. You raved and inconvenienced me. I was afraid of the real need I could never touch, the broken parts too deep to find, so I loved the bits you shared. I loved you imperfectly.
I am thinking about your confusion, tears and your lonliness, your violent expletives aimed at me, all accusation, your madness and your hearty hugs. You made me crazy. You made me cry. You cracked me up.
The world is a little less interesting.
I am thinking about you.
I watch you lift the mug to your lips, a gentle puff before you sip, straightening the coaster before you set the cup down again...all without lifting your eyes from the screen of your computer. It floods your features with sterile light, chiseling Modigliani angles into your Renoir face. I am displeased.
I blow on my hands to restore sensation, then stuff them into my jacket pockets.
It takes 53 minutes for you to finish and power down the notebook on your lap. You rub your eyes like a sleepy child and lay your head against the fringed edge of a sofa cushion. A thrill ignites my chest as I gaze at your vulnerable beauty. A flush warms my skin , encouraging the icy rain to redouble its efforts to drive me away.
I slip the wadded pillowcase from my pocket, a treasure looted from your laundry basket, and inhale your spicy floral scent. Nasturtiums, I think.
I will never forsake you...
Through a slat
In your blinds.
ODE TO THE INVENTOR OF THE HINGE
You revolutionized architecture and the shape of your world. Did you love your wife? Was your door made of stone, too heavy for her, leaving her vulnerable if she needed to run inside quickly to escape harm? Or was the lid to the larder impossible for her to manage?
Were you a visionary or a simple, pragmatic man? I could kiss you as I marvel at the smooth ballet...spring, pivot, swivel, swing...of my poison ring.
You are about to revolutionize the architecture and shape of my world.
I didn't miss the way your pinkie traces arcs through the condensation on your glass.
I smell your iced tea betrayal in the spray of mist from the lemon you crush so deliberately.
I'm sure you didn't see me wince for the drowned rind
As you didn't see me
When you didn't look
While you stirred and clinked in time to the thrum in my temples.
A southern kind of disaproval served up with Monday Night Football highlights and the practiced smile your napkin dabs, dislodging a phantom crumb that dared to cling there.
"How good of you to come. We must do this again some time."
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