“I don’t think I need any of you”
They sit in the circle – each part with arms folded,
creased in. Cautious to the centre of the light -
behind them, their secrets close in sharp black.
By being together, a self absorbs the room –
moving in and out, like a breath finding sleep.
She speaks first, the one with the dumpling words -
clots of fat. They look past her, assume something stupid,
pathetic as she reels off her affection for her cat.
Hands twist in her lap, her stare is on tilt,
she is a little unstrung, and they pass this moment first -
a desperate need for non pretence – we all know that.
Next the man with the wrinkled president’s face –
addresses another with a sentence as testing as a jealous god’s;
if I say you won’t like me, before you don’t like me,
when you don’t like me,
it will hurt even more that you do. We have put this in brackets – it lingers in the air –
something we want...
He holds a cigarette at eye level and squints through the smoke –
he says nothing of the sort, in this stature -
the lacking, controlled. Our eyes never leave him.
The Eurasian girl pipes up, clears her throat of lotus petals,
and the man with the receding hairline rolls her up like a cigar,
exhales, satisfied and says – “why, you are a bell”.
She has a perfect face for anyone - the tip of her, every dip of a finishing school –
dimples, chin to chest, looking up at us through a pixie fringe.
She is unsure, curls her words of attention with sweetness
but leans forward, a little flirt undone –she doesn’t know that she is like this –
a puppy girl with a bite.
“How can you not need people?”
He leans on his honesty, he really doesn’t know.
He now wears a black jacket, a black tie, sits back in the chair -
his wrists relaxed. He has no one to share with - neither parent nor wife.
He offers that he has no want for friends and still we don’t take our eyes away.
(She shakes her head in disbelief -
fidgets with her gaze.)
The cat woman starts to clench her jaw,
she holds a tissue up to her face – a carnation pressed against the cheek.
She thinks her husband must have loved her, to put up with so much
but he never cried one god damn time, he never passed beyond reason,
never clawed her like a cat could.
She slurps and shrugs her way through the overflow and yet
still our eyes are on him.
His eyes are lowered to the floor, something stuck - a cancer.
He crawls his way through a clearing in the choke, then swallows –
she is not done – she doesn’t want to leave us – she can tell us everything –
she does not –
(why was he so reasonable??)
he does not –
the self moves into a strain, the room heaves and gulps– a quiver –
a furrowed brow – fingers twirling tissue paper like cotton bobbins.
Teeth nibble the inside of the lip.
She runs forward to him - the petite flower child now a Mother Heroic -
and whispers his name. He leans into her and shades himself - a sound
out of the cradle, endlessly rocking –
snaking his arms around her hips. Underneath – terror for the sweet blush
of comfort, she kisses his ear and strokes his hair,
the spread of her lips - a taste of dawn.
In the present, in the here and now – what else could possibly matter?
We look on - little stubborn buds of self – our doubt catatonic – but nevertheless
a tear drops down everyone of us.
She is clogged up with him - his need – could not deny,
happy that she is loved, happy to provide.
He stands up and leaves the circle for a second
and we breathe again.
The man with the receding hair line turns to the cat woman,
kneads the distance with words – soft, lilting, he concerns himself
with theory of marital connection, wonders what he is to not know that his wife
has no representation.
Another asks him :
“If you only had one sentence to say, what would you say?”
He replies, “I would say I am afraid.”
The self moves again, the circle bends – we all know this;
the dark sighs, the warm nucleus of our tears, swallowing - the press of every one of us -
our chests expanding with love.
The young black woman shifts in her seat, wipes her cheeks, coughs, looks to her lap
and we ask her who her tears are for.
The man enters again and she smiles apologetically.
He sits next to her and looks at the floor and yearns.
She watched him, warmth rippling through her stare, but her tears are not for him.
“This darn society where I always have to think Negro first before I can –“
she slits her heart in two and we feel it in our breath. She cannot finish without catching,
her sob suspended - she wanted to touch and he reaches for her arm and strokes.
“I am right next to him!” She cries. They fold into each other, just a man and woman
eating up the whole world in their eyes, wet with self.
(When you come forth, you really do.)
The self congratulates, turns to each and says it loves – the petals from the inner circle;
silks overlapping, thread supple to flow – a muscle of what is always on its way –
for the taking - on its way, where honestly, the self pouts and smiles in equal measure –
all our footfalls, to a shape closing warm.
He speaks again, the one we cannot take our eyes off – a centre for our reach –
that people can reach for you and you can reach for them.
He couldn’t believe it would happen but it did.
The circle blots, the self consumes. We all stand up to leave -
each one of us a passenger to the next.