The Performance of a Lifetime
The door is creaking.
There is a name stitched in its surface
with light bulb filaments.
Do you even remember my name?
Just because it’s dark in here
doesn’t mean you are excused
It is telling me that soon, there will be footsteps
leaking in from the other side. It is bitter
and vengeful, exists solely for this purpose,
to afford me a moment of true suspense
between the turning of the knob
and the exposure of its manipulator.
I am as you made me.
Just enough time for one breath
between the shudder of the frame
and the glint from a pair of eyes or a knife
from the other side,
just enough—I fear repeating myself.
That’s not what you fear.
I fear betraying myself.
You fear knowing yourself.
No! I have no fear. I will be ready.
I do believe the door is eager
to fulfill its oft overlooked, yet vital role
in this drama, because
it is not locked.
You never locked me.
You pale, shut window, you have no idea,
you will never be ready. I can wait forever;
you cannot. Do not open me.
I will rattle you out from your bones
if it will keep you away.
The door groans louder than before.
I know; I have to hurry.
The candle wax drips on my fingers
but the light has become necessary
at this proximity. The paint is applied
to my face unevenly, but it will have to do.
Time is of the essence.
You will look just like them
with phrases like that.
Why bother with paint?
Why the ritual? I can still see
where you spill open,
where you will shed.
I wonder if it hurts to die.
Now you’re speaking my language.
Someone once told me that the act itself is painful
but the end result is release.
Someone with one hand
between a psychic’s legs
and the other in a coffer.
Another said that the tearing of body tissues
and firing of messages from the somatosensory cortex
of our brains, which we experience as physical pain,
is nothing compared to the pain
The difference here hinges on the nature
of the junction between the two sides,
if the existential translation we call death
sends us from a realm of imperfection
into one of perfection,
or if the opposite is true.
On a less philosophical level, I do not want to die.
Boy! You have your tools,
the specks and dust mites on the ceiling
are stars in the universe you are botching
in this room tonight. You metaphysics junkie,
you were catjaw screaming for me
before you heard about perfection—
and now you want me dead!
That door is laughing at me.
I must calm down. I’ve been here before.
If it is the only barrier between myself and death
I must remember
that I am still on this side.
Those could be footsteps,
or it could be sleep
calling me with a dull, monotonous voice.
Either way, they are coming to kill me.
These incantations I have memorized feel authentic
because they are in a foreign tongue.
Chi cerca trova.
Translated into my own language
the symbols lose their potency.
This makes me believe that it is only
in my brain where there exists
a division between sounds and meanings.
If this is true, then I am an imperfect being,
and none of this will work
the way it is supposed to.
I must be flawless.
Broken glass ragdoll, your body
was not made to withstand this.
There needs to be a way out, and in.
Life will wither without the sun,
the sun will switch off if no one looks at it.
You must be that passage,
or nothing will be anything.
I take a breath,
only for the sake of doing so.
Yes, if there are no flaws in my being
they have no way to get inside me.
You are not Arcadia, you pratfall sparrow
of mud-choked vines! Think!
You need a voice for your roots. Speak!
Speak to the sun, lest the wax seal your lips!
The door is rattling now, screaming.
I don’t believe it. It is a wall, it—
I, am impenetrable.
Come strangers, come!
If there is no door to connect us,
how could there be another side?
I am not the door!
There is no door.
There is no door.
There is no door.
But it still manages to open.