I can’t decide how much of my nightmares I should leak into my waking life, how much of them I should try to tell, how much to suppress, how much of them I should cherish like the skin of my child, how much I should scrape away like the sharp unforgiving barnacles of the deep regretful sea.
I have a secret self without skin.
You have one too even if you won’t acknowledge it. It’s the self you protect wordlessly because to breathe on it would collapse its wild delicate musculature, would warp its margins beyond recognition, beyond reconciliation.
Your secret self is louder than anyone can hear.
The things I want to tell you are thick with D minor in a fugue state you can’t reach from any chair.
When it’s all over there’s just enough room for you to disintegrate prettily into the second skin you knitted when your own slipped off without your permission.
Beyond this, there is less than nothing.
Hurry into dawn like you’ve got bullets for wheels. Don’t stop for the smell of your last conquest or the muddled dream of the next one. Your night is full of suitcases refilling themselves as fast as you empty them. You’re racing against an impossible empty promise. Stack as much love as you think you have against the shipping wall and watch it empty out into the bay pushing in at your feet. You’ll never be able to dive deep enough to retrieve your heart. You think it’s there under your skin, in the protection of your ribs and your intention, but it’s gone the way of all the waves before it. It’s gone with the siren call of the moon, shredded itself on the shoals you never saw in the lampless dark.
I can’t say there’s no way through here but I know there’s no way through here today. The myths you’re telling yourself, willing to be true, they fit only half your skin, only half your belief. You know you’re fitting words too precious for life into your fresh mythology. You have to let go for it to find you.
This under-voice of vice is not lying, this remembrance of past ghosts can’t walk paths without your feet. It can’t speak without your tangled language of loss. It struggles to find itself in unfamiliar dialects but struggles against ocean logic. It struggles to rise up through salt foam and cold wave to bring your memory back to the beginning where you first met yourself.
Rise against the sand and rock, the only place you’ve ever known yourself to bleed true, to blue in frigid water, to stiffen in false twilight. Here is your nest of intention, your nest of sinew and unlit wax effigy. I have only this to give. Don’t burn me until you’re ready to set me free into the horizon of dense fog. I promise to hide whatever you’re not telling yourself today.
There are moments in life when someone sees something in me that no one is ever supposed to see. My slipped mask, my naked imperfection, my exposed ax-wounds. I can’t acknowledge that they’ve seen what they shouldn’t have seen or I have to kill them. (Metaphorically)*. But I’ll never be able to not be aware of them seeing the thing they shouldn’t see that we’ll never have a conversation about.
What makes me sleep less well than I usually sleep, which is already pretty fucking awful if you didn’t know, is thinking about who else sees what they shouldn’t see who I haven’t caught out yet. I know from my millions of misinterpreted social interactions that most people don’t see much at all beyond the graffiti scrawled beautifully across my front door that’s meant to obfuscate and misdirect.
I’m not sure I would tell the desert trees the truth I keep knuckled tight to my chest even if it promised me water. I’m not sure I would let the last bastion of my most private self crumble even under the duress of a street mime following me all the way home on a dark hot Saturday night. I’m better at this game than anyone knows, so when I detect a crack in my carefully constructed subterfuge-suit it’s a code-red alarm and I start running all the way to the gutter where the game started before I reached my first decade on this planet.
Some might call this “running to ground”. I might be one of them.
This train goes nowhere. Runs through a hole in a mountain and never comes out.
Perhaps the world would be a different place if we all accepted the universal truth that an aloe vera plant requires water in order to plump up enough to provide relief for burns. You have to feed your fucking medicine if you want it to fix your ass.
I’m talking about a lot of things in order to not talk about the thing making my skin itch, making my soul scrub itself with lye and thyme, making me look over my shoulder to reassure myself that when I address the bursitis in my toe, I’m quite alone.
I’m not alone in here anymore. There has been a breach. I want to believe that if I stand super still for hours at a time and appear not to breath that the interloper into my truth will be confused and wake up from a surreal dream of self-emptying suitcases and stupid single-entendres that never end and wonder what food they ate that made them have such fucked up bad dreams? I cast spells through nightmares. It’s my only superpower. It was secret until now.