by Jeffrey McDaniel
On the red-eye from Seattle, a two year-old
in the seat behind me screeches
his little guts out. Instead of dreaming
of stuffing a wad of duct tape
into his mouth, I envy him, how he lets
his pain hang out. I wish I too could drill
a pipeline into the fields of ache, tap
a howl. How long would I need to sob
before the lady beside me dropped
her fashion rag, dipped a palm
into the puddle of me? How many
squeals before another passenger
joined in? Soon the stewardess hunched
over the drink cart, the pilot gushing
into the controls, the entire plane, an arrow
of grief, quivering through the sky.
I love things I cannot control. Our weekend in New York was like a bullet fired from a gun, all velocity and shredding hours, with a sun hard as butter and heat like a prayer. We landed at six in the morning, then stayed up until the same, wandering through fictional landscapes and following Banquo and Rebecca, Macbeth and his wife naked in the bath, through an unbelievable space, caught up in the show like we were enchanted, the actors all hunters luring us through the forest, (fifth floor, outside the sanitarium), all the better to cut out our hearts. Add us to the taxidermy collection. Add my skin to the leather in the foyer, to that of the birds I pressed to my cheek in the jail! Feathers in the wall of the padded room. Alchemickal symbols carved into the bottom of every drawer. So much murder! What were some of those places for? So much like a butterfly caught on my silent, silent tongue. Perfection in every direction, dusting my knuckles on it, cutting myself open on the show. Raving in the disco, fire in the eyes of our hands. The crazed beauty of every single moment. I regret that I only have one life to give to Sleep No More. I regret that I didn’t find any human teeth in the candy. Or the children’s bedroom, drenched through the one-way mirror with blood. Instead I saw him kill the king twice, a cruel orgasmic smother, pillows and fists, blood on his hands, the water splashing on the hem of my dress. Instead a witch took my hand, pulled me into a bedroom alone, and locked everyone else out. She seduced me, we danced, she pulled me into a closet, then out the false back, the closest I’ve ever felt to fantasy, coats everywhere, her fingers in my mouth, then through a metal door, a loud slam, she lay down on the cold silver table, it was a morgue.
Later, after the show, we didn’t go home, but we didn’t go to our Brooklyn Burning Man party either. Instead we found ourselves drenched in the fierce, stammering lights of Times Square, waiting for Anthony, dancing to music only we could hear, sharing our earphones with strangers, a tiny flashmob party of two. It was on, it was late, everything was beautiful. I wore my mask over my shoulder, a bleached porcelain epaulette, the bones and angles of where we’d been on view to the world, our strange masque, a visible mark of haunting, physical and solid and near. Eventually he arrived and we conquered the city a stride at a time until the night bruised under our feet, our conversation running like rabbits. Finally we paused at a 24 hour diner, one I remembered passing by the night it felt like my best friend died, and let the time crash in over our heads like the tide. The sun was up when we rolled into bed, too tired to pull up the sheets.