I waited my entire life to figure out who I am and who I am supposed to be. These are two completely separate beings. The person I must be for other people, for the rest of the world at large. And the person I am simply because this is me. I spent so much time and effort becoming the person everyone else wanted me to be that I never really had any time to figure out the real me. I didn’t like that person, the one who lived to put on the show for the rest of the world. I hate her. She is so fake, even in her gentle sweetness. So contrived and uninvolved. Like the surface of the ocean, where the soft gentle waves rock rhythmically, hypnotically, back and forth. The mind-numbing certainty of it all, that basic repetition. It doesn’t change. That’s all there is to it. As if there were nothing at all underneath. That isn’t me. I didn’t realize for too long that that isn’t me. It was never me. I wasn’t there.
All those years I spent as a hollow corn-husk doll. A smile pasted to my face and a kind word for everyone. I had hurt inside for so long there was no other place for the pain to go or to be. The tears I had cried had dried up, created the brittle façade that surrounded me like faery armor made from the finest metals, spun so thin and yet so strong. I didn’t stop. I didn’t think. I didn’t wander.
Enter you, into my glassine world. Not so much a breath of fresh air, but the brutal torrent of the monsoon. I was overwhelmed, swept up in the turbulent muddied waters, pummeled from above and below by storms that knew no boundaries, that tore at my breast as effectively as they tore at my soul. You didn’t even notice me at first. I was hidden too deeply beneath the glamours that clustered tightly about me. I saw you. Your eyes tippled over mine, not registering my presence. I went home. The mighty walls of my dam began to show cracks, nowhere close to bursting. I dreamed of great frogs singing, a holy chorus meant to rock the heavens. I awoke screaming, my throat rived, beveled and unleveled, choking with the belch of rotted meat long gone to seed. The man asleep beside me a stranger who had dragged me along at his side, forcing me to smile and nod and deny the reality of my own sweet grace.
He took me to a doctor. He sent me to specialists. I cried. Great heaping gulping wailing sobs and monstrous shrieks and alibis. The bellowing shook me out, clawing its way down to me, the essential vital essence of me, hounding me, shaking me, drubbing me, clobbering me, beseeching me, resurrecting me. No one heard a sound. I sat in offices, in cold chairs and warm, smiling dumbly and pretending to play along. I was given prescriptions, and exercises, and suggestions. The prescriptions I filled and left for the man to take. He gobbled them up, a greedy child noshing on fresh candies, his daemons ahowl for his blood every moment anyway. I ignored the advice, delayed the exercises, cast aside the concern and the queries.
I dug down. Excavated. I pulled out the old books, the ones dressed in molting leathers. I emptied the shelves within the castle in my mind, though my own self still clung to the bars beneath the earthen floors harbored in the dungeon. I was wide, and small, and stilted. I was the empty bowl, refilling myself over and over, only to look and find the bowl empty again. Surely a task set before me by the gods as punishment for some harrowing crime I had committed, be it in this life or another.
I found tools, rakes and shovels and picks and pitches and tines, scythes and axes and saws and hammers. I drew blood. I burned flesh. I drew pictures. I pillaged and I raped and I sorted. But there was nothing there. Only the ruminants of the whist long since having passed.
I had to see you once again. I had no reason to do so. I knew of no way to contact you, no way to request an audience. There was no rationale for us to meet again. Other than this over-eager sensation of my life depending upon the very breath you exhale, the merest bit of dust caught in the corner of your eye, the glimmer of the light off your hair. I didn’t care.
I called. I stuttered. Finally I begged, pleading, in the most hushed manner I was capable of divulging. I don’t know why you accepted, you who could not have picked me out of the crowd to save my life. You invited me, bid me, enticed me, entreated me. I do believe, sir, you tempted me to tempt you. Somewhere within you you realized that we were meant to be. You wanted me as much as I wanted you. You simply did not realize the type or the level of work involved.
I am the volcanic mountain, fuming and bulging with the heaviness of the molten moisture within my stacks, but I am blocked by rock and man and foul. This is not the way to attract.
Yet, there you were, from that first second moment, when the air between us vibrated and energized. We became smoke, lingering over the flesh, while burrowing far inside. We stood, man and woman, not two feet from one another. All alone in the world. The doors were all locked. The clocks were all stopped. The sun rose no further. The moon moved not a spot. Our bodies fell to the floor, discarded remnants unwanted and unneeded for this process. You saw me. You truly saw me. The battered bruised frightened little girl, hunkered down beneath the ground, huddled up cringing in a corner. I saw you, the golden god, the angel’s wings, the breath of fire. You drew me out from the spoiled grave and stood me in your flames. Your touch destroyed me. Your ardent flames licked and salved me, brushing away the filth and the dirt. You kissed me, sealing into my lungs the hearth of your own, filling my walls with your tomb. We did not touch; we
melted. You swept me into your arms and we jettisoned through the atmosphere as if we were the latest spaceship rocketing past the worlds. I was inside you. You were within me. I was awash with the glimmer of hope, the seductive speech of wisdom. I the little germ fell to nourishment within your great expanse, kindling the thought of recompense, that I might totter up, reaching out to the sun to be burned again by the rays, succored by the blood, and nourished past the point of needing to pretend.
You stayed with me, as we dripped, sweating tears and oils and unguents upon one another. My body the universe splitting open and agape as you reached in to eat your fill. This is not hope, not faith. This is the Truth of this place. We were made to fit within one another. This hollow filled by that spear. This shoulder meant for this tear. With tongues and fingers meeting here. We were rebourn, a phoenix bursting forth from the ashes, sinew wrapped us at the core, transplanting us from one cosmos to another, choking on the placenta and sulfur of the new realm as we fight to maintain our grip on the essence between us.
The clocks embarked upon their momentary transit once again. Time and space refolded themselves, leaving us marked and dazed, consummated and still partial. The sun passed through the skies, leaving a dark trail for the moon to trip upon as it arose to announce the blues of the marrows leaking yet around the corners.
I stood there, naked and unafraid. You stood there too, and you saw me. You reached out and touched me. I knew. You knew.
It’s a brand new space beneath our souls.
We walk towards one another, eradicating the old from whence we had come. The grains are taking hold, steeling our resolve. There is no need to turn. We are home now.
written by TK Kietero
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