Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lemont, IL at nine in the morning

Here's a picture for your headboard.
You'll be haunted by that specter
So perhaps you will remember
What you looked like when you got here,
That your skin, once alabaster,
Is now matte and dull and spackled
With a plaster coat applied
To cover every fresh disaster.

Shed that shell now, in good company.
We have seen your kind before.
And that glare so hot
It peels the paint
Off everything you glance at,
It's been captured in this headshot,
In your stony gaze and pallor,
To remind you what you looked like
And the days you've left behind you,
A ghost to guard you as you rest here,
Rest your mind and bones and flesh.

How did they see this ghastly face
And somehow never even guess
The weight that pressed your voice
And eyes flat grew more massive
As each day passed. When you
Murmured no's and yes's,
Simple, single-word responses
To the easiest of questions,
They believed that you had slept
And ate and woke up and got dressed
Instead of staying up for days and
Finding uses for your dresser's
Smooth black top (it was impressive,
all that energy expended
Just to let yourself pretend
That you believed this razor-gift
Had been presented by a friend,
And out of love and good intention).

While that act, so cold and confident,
Came and went in merely minutes.
Then a mirror is just a mirror,
Just a place for a reflection,
And you looked so wrecked and ravaged,
And you found yourself so wretched,
It was always back to bed.

You will see this picture daily--
Staring, sulking, lonely remnant--
(If we could, then we would brand you
Or imprint in on your retina)
And you will face that empty gaze
And note how little you resemble
(Or indeed even remember)
What you looked like when you got here.

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