Performance with One Hand over the Script
Once, the 4 year old I take care of fell down outside the entrance to her apartment and scraped the skin on her knee. She collapsed on the concrete, wailing for her father. I swooped in to unleash over her the remorse I had for her fall but she wanted nothing to do with me – my presence only amplified her distance from the one she needed more.
My therapist uses this scenario as a model for how I might take care of myself. She asks me to treat myself as if I were this child each time I fall. To feel compassion and empathy instead of scorn – why did you fall? What is wrong with you that ordinary walking proves such a challenge?
When I fall in love I want to get down on the concrete with a person. And of course love often fades. There are others one might cry for. I’ve known the handhold of sidewalk under me, sharing with a love who’s forgotten my name. The vibration of cell phone under my pillow, stirring me in sleep as if the elbow of the arm of the loved body. There’s a vast flatness gazing back. There’s a window of a home that is the starry sky.
after Anne Boyer
I don’t want to fall down into what resembles the final hole but isn’t. I rise each day thinking today I’ll avoid the final hole, only to find soon I can’t even make it to breakfast without falling into the final hole. Only to find it resembles the final hole but isn’t. Only to get out, trying once again to have a meal. In the grocery store I fall into the final hole near the apples. For a period of many years I was a projectile from a catapult into the endless expanse of what resembles the final hole but isn’t. Countless times I was in the final hole, having lost any hope of climbing out, only to find I had overlooked something, a reclamation, or an unseen source of bravery, and just like that I was out of the final hole, only to find another final hole came after the first. Knowing all the while it was not the first but the latest in a long lineage of powerful final holes which swallowed me and other vulnerabilities like me. I would not like my voice to be so quiet in desperate moments. I would like to fill a large jar with the day’s findings, letting each one luxuriate in the comfort of having significance, and then strong-arm it bitterly into what resembles the grave but is actually a mouth.
Expected to like boys, I have to work very hard to be figured outside the blueprint. In the car, an atrocity looks me straight in the eye instead of looking at the road. This is a common TV trope understood as a warning sign – the background to main event that the audience will later recall with a chilly feeling. What audience? I ask myself, snapping out of my reverie. I am back in the front seat, breath fogging up the windshield. If we lived in a bicarbonate home we might paint the ceiling black and pretend it’s the night sky. You make me want to write a list of truths and bury it in the weed patch so clovers can puncture through it. Every reality is only what remains after 7 years of overgrowth. We teach our students how to create poetry with the leftovers from an erasure, who will teach us to write new lists? What if the remainder between translations is perfectly usable, but hurts us so much that we push it out of life?
Did you ever imagine a life with me? All these others are futile because it is you who I’m in love with. But I know not to think this way. The heart is like a fist. Even as I say it, I am able to see the tone does not match the intent. Even as I say it, I picture myself wearing lavish fabrics and floating upward into the clouds. Even as I say it, I am able to document my transgression from earthly baby nymph to aging goddess of snow and sleet, ruler of that weather which no one can manage. Even as I say it I don’t know where I’m going but know I will have departed swiftly from the place I began. Even as I say it I am not saying it, I am just thinking it, and during movement between my apartment and yours, I lose it. I lose it like I lose the gaps between sentence. The gaps not letting me say it. I believe in a transgression from former and current. I believe all weather will become unmanageable. I believe I will leave my body behind and become colossal. On my birthday I make myself into egg yolk and play like a fetus inside my egg world. I am weightless, I am colossal, I am waiting to be born. On my birthday our first contact in a month. Language not letting me say it. I will manage. Heavily, but full of weightlessness. Even as I say it, I am able to be born. I believe I can leave language which cannot have me be born, and draw up new language. Even as I say it, I am concocting a life not in ruins. Even as I say it, I am leaving my disaster where no one but me can find it. I am leaving it in a hollowed out tree as a nest.
Phoebe Glick is interested in preserving queer intimacies under a State which endeavors to eradicate them. She has an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute and is the author of the chapbook Period Appropriate (dancing girl press, 2016). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Apogee Journal, Entropy, The Fanzine, The Feminist Wire, Queen Mob's Teahouse, and elsewhere. She is the editor of The Felt and organizes Living Conditions, a monthly reading series to benefit individuals in precarious positions due to our messed-up world.