Autobiography or, how to be lost.

She suffocated in silence, trapped in a room with doors, without handles. She had not noticed when she floated into the room; she was too distracted by the scene above. A pinprick in the sky, so small she had to paint the picture herself—paradise. She was embarrassed to admit how easily she was beguiled by an imaginary thing, the room. She would have walked past, but it was there and convenient and she was so very tired and perhaps her original journey was so far off—a quick detour? She might like it? So she tore parts away that might be unseemly and tried—really tried—to make herself small enough. She scraped herself inside but then a trick of the light enveloped her and she was lost.

She was so struck by the cloudless, brilliant above that she did not notice she was trapped in the cramped gray below until the door was closed and the only way out was up.

The doors were not true doors. Could she claw her way out she would have found unfinished wings and crumbled edifices. Perhaps some would enter the room and find other ways—but it was not her room. She simply did not fit.

So she climbed. Nothing above but what she could imagine, for the room shifted and all she had of above was in her mind.

The way was long and arduous and lonely, the only sound her gasping breaths, her guttural cries in the dark. The only company her own pulse, the steady beat of her heart keeping time.

Still, she climbed, for what else was there?

She climbs still.

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Hold my breath

Just a little longer

Until it burns then aches

Until I sleep, and the last breath we shared

Seeps out and is lost.

Rip the sheets from my desolate bed

Still drenched with the scent of you,

So I tuck them into the closet, unwashed, until

The scent of you goes stale,

And the ghost of you like

Tendrils sinks into me, claiming the whole of me and ruining my insides.

I can’t breathe for want of you,

Even if just for a moment—

Just fragment, stolen

From your broken life.

You have chosen the brokenness

And I cut myself on the shards of you

Left behind.

The blood seeps into the sheets

And intertwine with what is left of you

And we are once again.

The Marionette

At your leisure I danced.

I grinned earth wide

And my tears filled the deep craters

Torn into my rough hewn body

Chipped again and again by your strings.

You locked me away

And dust settled around me

And within me

And perhaps

When you drew me out again

You would remake me

Something more to your liking.

Perhaps I could be human this time

And you would love me?

At your leisure I performed,

And when I failed to please you

You painted over my lips

And used my mouth to spew your own words,

And the strings you strung and pulled

A noose about my neck

Stopped me screaming.

When at last I cobbled together a voice

From scraps you dropped beneath the table,

You crushed me under your heel.

You cut my strings

And ripped me apart, limb from limb.

Until I love you the way you demand—

Without desire or expectation—

You will hold my strings a guillotine,

And every breath I take

Will be a breath you have allowed;

And every step I take

Will be on legs you created;

And when I move just right

The perfect marionette,

You will share a sliver of your light

And shine your love on me,

And you will love me

And I will be worthy of love.

Of wanting.

In the pallid tension of a fragile dawn

That awakens stretching old legs beneath its tired sky

The wail of the mourning dove sounds the alarm,

Its hollow boned wings slicing the air, a guillotine.

.

I heed it not.

.

My resolve is already pulled like bootstraps,

Ill fitting and tattered, but

I have promised my mirror—today.

.

We have practiced our part a thousand times, my mirror and I.

We have ticked by uncounted hours of caught breaths and stolen smiles.

We have cracked its glass with smudged lipstick and clouded eyes.

We have lost one million days to wanting.

We have held conversations that only we know

And have imagined the tenor of your voice reserved only for us.

.

We are ready for the stage and perhaps you will know your part already?

….

In words that only I have heard

Deep in darkness, your lips pressed to the shell of my ear,

You have almost said as much.

.

Haloed by sun, sticky with humid summer heat

You, Adonis, and I, Medusa.

I find myself stone before you.

.

Line?

I would compare you to a summer’s day, but

You compare me to a bit character in a movie you like first.

.

It isn’t the movie you love.

.

Your love pricks sweet like knives in legs I wear for you—

It is devastating and gorgeous and I drown with want of it.

I know it because I am near enough to its warmth to glimpse it and know it,

Though it does not know me.

When you recount the character in the movie you like well enough

Your eyes don’t steady and you don’t soften and pause, remembering.

But you like it well enough and you offer the part to me.

.

I had words that would draw you irrevocably to me

But I lost the line.

I sold the best parts of myself for ill fitting pieces,

And besides we are surrounded and watched.

Therefore a chasm rests safely between us

In the event that together, we are seen.

.

I am white noise in the periphery of you.

.

I turn you over and remake you in my mind for hours.

The part and place was yours and it is now mine and it is precious.

.

You promise me one night.

We will dance, your fingers laced in mine

And under the diaphanous gaze of every star I have ever wished upon

We will be seen.

.

“Wow,” is all you manage and the word carries me forever.

,

We do not share the dance.

Your finger tugs mine in the dark and that small moment

Becomes every moment—

And infinite

.

.

.

But in the naked whiteness of light it is gone and we divide.

.

Years pass with the burning swiftness of a

Southern sun in summer,

And we play out our lives parallel.

.

I hold the myth of you to me until I find there is no room for

Specters in my ruins.

I bring you to daylight and I recount the tale of you.

.

I share you in a sacred space—

An offering.

A confession.

As the steam laps at my scalp

And the gentle crown of coils is made brittle and bone straight,

I await the truth of me

And my atonement for still wanting you–

For forgetting my line

And ruining us.

.

You are recounted to me, true:

Imperfect

Unknown

And mortal:

We

were never we and

We

Were never tragically starcrossed, nor

Chained by the dark—

I was the dark

And by you, would never be brought to light.

.

You, a southern son,

Played your part;

and

(Your ignorant, grinning little fool)

I danced, dazzled by your splendor,

and I waited,

and I wanted,

and I—remanded to the shadows of a lesser you—

Played mine.

while you were away

i will die while you are gone.

time and again i have begged the black away, 

knowing you were too near. 

i could not bear you to see.

i knew you would call me back, and 

because i love you

i would return from something beautiful

to this perpetual wait. 

don’t fuss. there’s bread and meat for sandwiches.

and the laundry is pressed and folded.

i’ve chosen a dress for the burial, and a hat.

the girls will take care of the makeup.

skip the repast. 

i made your bed and left mine undone.

i thought you might like to lie there, a bit, and imagine

me lying in the space across from you.

sometimes, deep in the dark, i reached for you

and i could almost feel you reaching back.

the way i felt your eyes caress me

when my back was turned,

the strength of your arms

the time you hugged me.

you will wonder what to do with your time

now that i cannot tell you how to fill it.

i thought about staying.

i knew you would be angry if i chose to leave.

were my bones young and my mind lithe

and the air crisp and full

i might stay awhile.

but it is winter.

i know you don’t like to think of it.

but it is winter now and sometimes

the sun fools us into thinking winter will pass

and leave us untouched.

it will not.

you will have me here, even if i am empty

so that you are not at last alone.

so i will die while you are away.

i will wait for you, just beyond the veil.

come when you are ready.

on the anniversary of your end.

I know where you are. 

Like a hangnail 

Or enduring pain

Lodged deep beneath my skin

Or the space 

between heartbeats.

I think I have rid myself

of the pain of you

Sloughed it off 

like a winter coat

Or youthful innocence—

Which, ill-fitting, you took with you—

And then I think about 

measured time

And unfeeling dates—

The pillars standing sentinel

Over the reality of you—

And the gash between the pillars,

The place where 

the whole of you existed.

I am bound by the date

that means you ended

And I break open

And I gasp you out;

There was not enough life

In your lifetime. 

Not enough happiness

In the midst of the despair. 

And all that you were,

Twenty seven short 

Revolutions,

Tagged and bagged

And stuffed into plastic.

I invent a new life for you

Because all ownership of stories

And the life you lived

is gone from you now,

And you are relegated the spaces 

And the downbeats

And they call you lost.

And I repeat it back to them,

But you are not lost. 

You are here, 

all the time

In the ebbing 

and the flowing

And the bittersweet sting 

of eternal grief. 

the wake

She proclaims him beautiful

Like an angel, sleeping,

A soft contented smile

Draped like plaster on his lips. 

.

To me he smells sick and wet,

Like dead flowers decaying in the marsh

They found him in,

The anchor wound tight around his neck,

Eyes gone,

Bowels spilled,

The world entire empty of him,

As he willed it. 

.

I wonder how his hurt felt. 

Did it blister like mine,

And bubble up, the pus

Seeping out and clinging to him like

Maggots feasting on his decaying parts?

Was the pain of leaving meant to

Tip the scale

So the pain of staying 

Would feel less like suffocating 

Than pulling the lever 

And excusing himself?

.

I wonder if there was ever a note,

Tear stained words stitched together

Saying nothing;

An oft composed letter

That he could not bear to jot down 

Because they would think him weak,

And to name his pain

Was to pass it,

And the strong carry the pain

Until they stoop and slide into the grave

Broken by its weight. 

.

I wonder if he measured time

By the numbered days he gave himself

To breathe the breaths he wanted,

And feel the sun he wanted,

And hear the laughter he wanted,

And perhaps they would think of this

And not his absence. 

He would give everything 

For a small one

Or none at all—

Just a place for himself.

Different.

.

A mind not filled with black

And longing

And eternal despair;

A space he must measure in sleeping

His only peace in dreams,

Or dreamless slumber:

For the days are overwhelmed with wanting

And there is no more room for joy—

And what if this is catching?

She proclaims him beautiful. 

.

Perhaps at last he is.