I spent half an eternity inside a line of T.S. Eliot.
I dirtied all the coffee spoons.
I cleaned them one by one. Only
to dirty them again, like Sisyphus.
I wandered between rooms, I came and went, talking of
more so than Michelangelo,
talking of red rocks and prickly juniper, scuttling
like a five-legged spider with a view of the saddle mesa worth
I lived in a thicket of paradox.
I called it my Indigo In-Between,
where I entertained
my own hundred indecisions and their thousand attendant vices.
I lived there, in the bare,
musty ice-chest of inaction, idling.
Could not commit to a damn thing.
To eat, or not to eat a peach?
the roving eyes all over the room
to a single
upon my person,
or dodge their every glance at any cost?
To gain weight and pull the batteries out of my scale,
or resume worship at the altar of self-cancellation?
To chime in, or leave the decisions to the ones so at ease with power?
(To chime in, or leave the decisions to the ones standing guard snarling over their lion’s share of power?)
To let out my bellows of political discontent, or snuff out the indignation by any means available?
Mom has an answer. Snuff it out!
Repress! Deny! “Don’t rock the boat.”
Verbatim, that quote.
Perhaps I will become my mother, for whom, at some
taking charge became too hard. Decision-making dizzies her.
Too etherized to care, to dare, she nuzzles into apathy like it’s a fuzzy blue housecoat.
Perhaps her survival is hinged on her denial.
Nine years ago I stood paralyzed in the threshold
between a lit room and a darkened hallway,
in the drastic, screeching silence of an emptied house. I stared
at the dull yellow light scattered around my shadow, debating my dares.
Do I dare
throw myself down the stairs?
Or swallow a pill?
Do I dare creep over the window sill?
I watched my slumping silhouette, so deadly still
against the incandescence that spilled cold and disinterested across the grayish carpet
Do I dare.
Do I dare walk out the door?
Do I dare move a muscle?
Or do I dare exhale? This breath,
this stale suicideation I’ve been holding,
blue in the heart,
do I dare
this only thing I know?
Nine years ago, the only thing I knew. How to be blue. How to shrink from daring. How to hide out and nurse
self-doubt until it was twice my size.
Wishing I could be anyone
other than myself, who was obviously worthless.
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
Written by Marianne Baum, with thanks to T.S. Eliot and Abra Fortune Chernik.