“I’m signaling you through the flames.” – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
She saved him in dreaming.
He was in hell. To him what more could damnation be than to live a stagnant life? Routine; enslaved to ritual tactics accepted because that was what is socially expected. “If you don’t have a penis, then you’re a woman.” “If you’re a woman, then you’re supposed to be with a man.” “That’s how it is. Besides, you’ve always liked boys. That’s why you always hung out with them. Right?”
This is how humans are to behave; to settle; stuck in a box with a man that leaves scars on you; a man who reaps silence like a choking smock, the man to become the darkest horse. The violence is coming. He could feel it, but not a sound escaped from the horse’s snarling lips, flaring nostrils; none to allude the future actions, until the mark. The man’s fingers grasped tightly; held down; trampled; the nails digging deeper. Deeper.
He shouldn’t have told them. Keep scars to yourself. No one wants to know. When they ask you, “how are you doing?” it is expected to say, “Well. And you?” It is a prerequisite; the motion is planned; a temporary settlement between empty passing lands; the plates grinding slowly across the earth’s crust; pleasantries crawling against the tiny rocks. But we are not well. We are shifting through the stages between living and dying. Slowly.
He preferred the company of boys because they were like him. Girls were different. He remembered bathing with them. What was this feeling between his legs?
He remembered being with men for years, and he was the woman. This is what is expected; to feel nothing. They’re taking off their trousers; I want to feel something, but there’s nothing there.
This is what is expected.
Then some nights he would dream of being with men from the past. Was it their shoulders he found arousing? Their clavicles? Their minds? Or was it routine? The idea, Old feelings, old expectations, now neverwants. He shuddered. Their souls were empty holes. In the end they were nothing. His heart was screaming; this is NOT what you desire; they are not your fate; escape the inky black water; their fatal grip like an iron jagged nutcracker; ESCAPE!
He dreamed of a beautiful woman; powerful but fragile; hiding her face; always several steps ahead; beyond the canals, blackened foggy corridors, dense sunlight at the borders; always out of reach.
Would he ever reach her?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serrated waltz. When he was a boy, he would ask his parents again and again, “Nothing bad’s going to happen, right?” Reassurance. It was a powerful drug. He was addicted. The weening process is torture.
I will be brave. But, the what ifs. The what ifs. Between strength and treacherous doubt; in goes the edge; out again and I can walk; in again; I’m stumbling; how could anyone love a mind like this? I relinquish doubt again and again, and it seeps in like an old oozing ink, the kind that doesn’t wash off so easily. Every promise was meant to be kept, with every breath he clings to keep them, but now he must be seen a wicked liar, because he is weak; because no matter how many times he says he will not doubt; the human frailty of mind does capsulate him. I believe in her, but to believe in myself is to tame a much fouler beast. So many hintings to madness; that she was never there at all; that he was only fooling himself all along; “You are an imperfect horrible monster, therefore you do not deserve her. You will NEVER be good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough for her.”
I choose to believe. I will fight this. These promises I choose to keep, through slips and scaves along the way.
I am signaling you through the fire because I know you are there. You are as real as I am. The overwhelming odds and lack of confirmation, conversation, no “Hello, I love you”s born from the air inside you, pushed through your fierce heaving lungs, out your tender feathery mouth, rounding off your nectarous lips may bruise and batter my psyche to no end, but it is my fears, it is the curse still sinking in my head, in my heart like a ship submerged in lead; it awakens only in the absence of agony; when the waters are calm.
I do believe in true love as the air we breathe may burn our bodies to cinders in time. It will prevail.
I will work hard, and create the music of truth that inspires lives for the better. And no matter what the end of this life ensnares, even if I am to faultier, and fall off the jagged mountain, I know you will still be here, holding my hand. You’re out there somewhere.
That’s all that matters.
We’ll go on, so I’ll keep going.