The chrome is staring at me. The mirrors stare too. The walls have opened up their shadowed eyes and now they’re glinting and gleaming as they follow this body from place to place. I worry and wait and pace and pace and pace as the walls make synchronized moves, as the walls move stealthily, un-pausing as they test the distance left. The walls are the mirrors and the mirrors are the chromes and I am staring from wall to wall and face to face and I am eating away at my hands, at my nails, and the skin is peeling under the pressure, and my teeth are turning red with blood that oozing from my freshly eaten flesh and the blood is congealing under what’s left of my nails and staining the tops of my gums and sticking between my teeth and tinting my tongue a pinker pink. I am in the mirrors and the chromes. I am in the walls but still I am in between them and they have moved so swiftly, so quickly, so quietly that I had yet to realize how close they are to me. I am in the middle of this mirrored hall, this chrome tin, this body box and the walls are higher than my eyes but they’re pressing in on my thighs and my arms and my hands and I’m smearing blood from my fingertips on the walls and the mirrors and the chrome as I worry and wait and push and pray that these walls will go away but they’re only growing tighter and my muscles are tearing as I strain and strain and strain and wish that I was stronger and smarter and bolder and harder and calmer and happy. My muscles give in and I am flattened between the walls and I realize they’re not walls at all and it’s all in my head and I try to breathe a sigh of relief but I have yet to breathe because my lungs are so empty and my throat has closed and my skin is vibrating like a tuning fork when rapped on the bench and my brain is screaming that I need to stop and my hands hit the floor and the floor is a door and I’m falling face first, I’m falling faster, falling into the abyss that tries to swallow me whole but there’s a rope and my fingers grasp and grip but the blood is making me slip and my fingertips tear down to the bone and I cry out and let go and I’m falling still. This darkness catches me and holds me and makes me feel at home but I know that I’m still alone and climbing out of this hole is too daunting so I just lay here and let them swallow me whole.
I stutter and spit and pressure forms a pit in the center of my chest and this pit is gauged, punched, wrenched, gouged, torn away from my slowly pumping arteries, arteries that ooze and eek and reek of desperation as my lungs inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale and my breathing is too fast and my brain loses track of time and my diaphragm misses a step and the beat is a staccato now and the tango and tap are forgotten in the midst of this attack. The pit keeps growing, growing and consuming the muscles and bones and soon they are decalcified and brittle and the pressure erupts and my lungs wheeze and whisper and I slip and slip and slip into the abyss opening behind my eyes as my bones are ground into a powder that floats away with my breath.
Sites and sounds are sight and noise but not dreams. Sights in my mind, visions of the past, passed the past that passed my past to me. Visions filed away in flat files, in file faxes, in manila cabinets and folders and notecard boxes and there’s an indexed guide but I can’t find what I’m trying to find so I’m searching my brain and my brain is eating away at the manila mortar in my heart and in my eyes and my eyes are filled with stones that crinkle and crack and the dusty shards rumble down my cheeks and the peaks of my brain are avalanched into mesas and they’re manila and they’re pressed and repressed and I can’t see visions anymore. My eyelids are pressed and flattened and moistened and shattered and manila mesas hold notecard boxes and manila folders and manila cabinets and file faxes and flat files and I don’t see visions anymore I’m just daydreaming and they’re steaming, steaming, steaming the words and files and the ink oozes away and everything is manila. Manila, manila, repression is an art.
My hands are tingling when I wake up. They’re throbbing and aching and twitching and vibrating and tingling and they won’t stop. I’m laying on my back with my arms stretched towards the ceiling and my right eye won’t stop twitching and I’m staring and staring and waiting and hoping and praying that you won’t lay down next to me. My mind is a sunburnt peach, soft and sweet and angry and red and sharp and sore at the touch and your touch is too rough. I purse and unpurse my lips, open and close my mouth, open and close my eyes, expand and contract my lungs, and expand and contract and expand and contract and expand and contract and think about hope and how it might be real but hope is not a white light and hope is not a light and the end of a tunnel and hope is not alive and hope is not dead but hope is a rope and the rope is tied to the distant buildings and the distant shores and it feels more like yarn in my palms as I try to grasp firm grips, as I try to find the guide before I slip. Hope is a rope and the rope is tied to the distant buildings and the distant shores and I place my hands one over the other, right left, right, left, right and I can’t see more than my hands as the grasp and grip and slip and twist on this lead guiding me to the sea.
I was baptized when I was young. I wore windbreaker pants and a t-shirt and I was painfully aware of my body. The dividing wall between the baptismal tank and the congregation was my relief. My mom planned a pool party and I ruined the surprise because my body is ugly. The baptism wasn’t so bad; at least I was wearing all of my clothes. What stands out the most is the walk back to the changing room behind the altar. I remember my windbreakers and the way they held water. I had two buckets tied to my ankles as I walked. Once there, I lifted the elastic band and the water gushed out like a bursting balloon. I wonder if anyone noticed my balloon ankles as I walked behind the tank. I wonder if anyone could hear the swish, swish, swoosh of my pants mixed with the buckets in motion.