To the boy who is suddenly surfacing and haunts:
Let me fumble with my house keys for a while.
It has been a while since the last time
worship has licked its name upon moist windows and my knees
have kissed the floors.
When you are realized, asphalt perspires and the streetlamps
find a way to congratulate me mockingly. I am waiting
for the closeness, the itch in my fingers for when you arrive, the thrums
in the street, the drumming of the town’s
little drummer, proclaiming He must be here now!
I lied: I am not waiting. I’m barring as much as I could
from the inside. Even the carpets now are
whispering The waltz might yet begin, the waltz might yet die
again. If I ask you to walk away, will you
call on a deluge, screaming? Will you scream until I stop
asking you to leave? The chandeliers chant and I remember
having to remember you have yet to come. Soon
the storm comes; this house’s howling calms.
When you knock, your first recreates
this house: its holy, its haunted, its haunting, its body,
my body. Begins to wake what is left of the wrecked
door, the crumbling porch, the Atlases we call posts.
Your hands wakes. Come in, please, would you like to
drink? What would you like? I can only offer
some tea, some coffee, the usual—
except it has been years and the cupboard is decaying.
I forgot how to offer
what I have. What remains untouched revolts. We remain
aching for the stroke whose slowness blesses
whatever it may pass, whose passage blesses
whatever it may warm, whose warmth condemns
stillness. So: touch or revolt. Or both—this convulsion, this
resistance, ours. Will you hold? If I ask you to
dance, will you be a jester, a deranged knave, a promise of unironic
laughter, the king in his preschool pajamas? Will you be
willing to be crownless, headless, spinning like the jaded
ballerina in a music box from long ago? I am not a lost child but lost
childhoods. I am the ogre mask, the drunkard elf, the flightless fairy
whose ruin was forgotten
because unwritten. Let me teach you to dance, and you will
be given whatever story you ask for.
You answer: sip the dirt from under my nails, nibble
at my callouses until I am new again. I don’t. Won’t. You still turn
new. Now the refusal only serves to make you
laugh. You hand me a multiple-choice question when your fingers begin
to traverse my skin: fangs, feather duster, ice pick, gaslighter.
Shall I be grated, gnawed at, or dusted? Pierced or gaslit?
You near my spit like you would a decapitated
mannequin’s limbs; I wear you like a ringing
in my ear. You dangle your feet, dallying with decay before nailing
a maelstrom to my dress and taking a front row seat. Hang me
on the mantelpiece. Sniff. You may smirk or sneer. You may
revel in this allowance. Dislodge fragrance from spillage. But let me spill
narratives of long ago rugburn: how you taught me friction in the midst
of waking gargoyles and thunderclaps, how you taught me fiction
as we wrote and writhed and gasped and thrashed, how we crawled
through murmurs, how you murmured protest after protest
whenever I pleaded. I am not pleading now
but waltzing. You are still in the front row.
What remains untouched revolts. We remain, we ache
for time. We let each other let this happen. Again I let you
happen. The morning happens.
We second-guess the dawn as we suck the wisps of prolonging. Let us
keep second-guessing. Already I give you the freedom
to stay; take.