Friday, April 12, 2013

A Portrait of the Artist's Abuser as a House

“I know that his punishment is that he has to be himself forever.”
                                                          – John Paul Davis

These bricks, these strong, difficult bricks,
are the sort you cannot look at without remembering
the rusty clay they came from.  Walk up,
through the trees, low hanging, shadows their only fruits,
and stand on the low front stoop, covered
in Astroturf, faded and balding.  Knock
on the wooden door, painted moss, and it will open
unto you.  When it closes behind, you will not notice.
The house will always be just

out of focus, in the way of the memory of a house is,
the house of your friend from fourth grade, you remember,
almost.  Try to focus – you never will, something in the periphery
always grabbing for your attention, keeping you from remembering
why you want to leave.  When the walls start to sing
it will seem so natural, singing that you’re pretty, please stay,
have some food, take a nap, you deserve this, you can never leave,
you must never want to.

                                                   Beige walls, tan carpeting, no music, just
singing that you’re ugly, you have to stay, if you leave no other house
will have you, sparse furniture but a kitchen full of food, and outside
a storm has started, warm wind blustering, knocking trash down the road,
occasional thunder but never rain, only the threat, only
cloud-to-cloud lightning, never touching down, the fear
of the storm is worse than the storm itself, you know,
and you realize the house

                                                    has done all this, grown the trees,
started the storm, turned in on itself, begun wilting like a plant
removed from its soil, like a fish taken from its sea, like a brick
stolen from its clay because it wants only you, forever,
and no one else must see you at all.  This is why there are trees,
a storm, a song, nothing else can live here, no friends,
no visitors, no roommates, no pets, just you, the song,
and a kitchen full of food.

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