loneliness in five acts
i build for myself a person suit, soft and fleshy, pulled too taut, too tight over my scales. but here it is. here it is, and it’s the best i can do. there is this: it is more convincing than yours. softer, made with the finest materials: petals for my lips; flesh of summer’s last peaches. what is it that’s made you so hard, so unconvincing, so desperate to convince?
SOCIETY DISABLES THE DISABLED. this is the chorus, the mantra, the chant. the staccato beat of our hearts. call to arms, war drum, hymn. sing it loud, sing it proud. wear it like a badge, tattoo it over your scars. there is no shame here. no shame in being neglected. it’s on them. so listen: get angry. your anger is righteous. get angry. build. build, build, build, until you can’t. until you can’t wrap your fingers around the bricks. until you need to pass them on to someone else.
my burden: stigma. which is to say: not stigmata. which is to say: i don’t want to be nailed to a stake for your sins. and yet—
here i am. here we are. here we are, and this is a dance. a one-man dance. danse macabre. you dance around me, wonder why i’m not joining in, and i say, look, i will, just as soon as you take out these nails and let me down off of this thing. look, i don’t like this and neither do you, so just let me down. let me down let me down let me down my wrists smart like hell—
you can’t hear me over the music. i might as well be speaking in tongues.
you come with your torches, your pitchforks. there is no room for sympathy. no soft feelings for the creature on the pyre. no warmth. no honey-glow heart spill. blood runs: a spill of sunset. i arch over the flames, the line of my stomach the line of the horizon, my burning eyes sinking spheres of fire.
my mouth a bell, my tongue the clapper: i call them all to dinner, voice tolling through their yards, an accumulation of dirt and dust and broken bicycles. mangled frames and bent wheels. my garden is green and lush, plentiful, a soft place, and i let them pick armfuls of peaches from branches laden with sweetness. they gorge on cherries, cram their mouths with strawberries until they’re full. when they leave, trailing pips and pulp, i am left standing there in the garden,
bloody and bruised and, the worst part, uncomprehending—