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The Dark

Last night, I dreamt

I slit my stomach open

with razor and scalpel

to the sound of triangles

and cyclic percussion.

Concussed by hot pain, I

staggered between masked

men and concubines.

I could not find my eyes.

Blinded as an Oedipal

remnant, I wandered, flustered,

and hardly mustered the

strength to sink to my knees.

I could not know if

I was bleeding.

Seeking some answer, I

tore my ripped skin asunder;

I took my fingers and tugged

at what was fastened there.

I was not scared.

Liquid trickled like locks

of soft hair across my palms.

I did not run.

I hummed some song

that only we remember,

and from my dismembered

belly, a quiet laughter

tended to dust in the corners

of a dim, baroque room.

I swooned.

I sang,

and so came

the brazen bodies of hyenas, screaming

out from my gaping innards.

Their coarse fur curdled my liver.

I kept singing,

and so came the ringing

of gold coins pouring like white

noise from the tight and poised

edges of new wounds.

I lay cocooned in feeling.

I crooned,

and the moon took shape

beneath me, light crawling

like cities falling toward the sun.

I wondered, then, if there was

meaning in the creeping of spiders,

their willow legs peeking

from my beating heart.

I was struck by fever,

and crescendos nearly tore me apart.

At once, my weight began

this heaving, a seizing

not unlike ecstasy,

and the clattering of

tools and bones against

hardwood floor swelled

into new shores of rhapsody.

I wanted more.

I tore, then, at my own limbs:

took joints like clothespins

and bended them until

they shattered.

Drums droned on, a rant,

a pitter-patter in the background.

I was left among

broken and begging bloodstains,

the flung portions of my torso,

chains and sugarcane,

the fossil memory of my body,

those sympathies that cannot be named,

the pressures and parts of

arms, abdomen, arteries —

so difficult to please! —

rabid, intrepid, rotting,

I kept singing.

I felt no pain,

only a slight

cracking of atoms,

a thin artistry.

I sang,

and notes framed

a small white crane,

that, stained red, spread

its wingspan and burst

like a curse from my back.

My body slackened, but, though

weakened, a rhythm yet branched

from my neck, seeking release,

and my breath yet panted its errant chant.

I was granted nothing. I kept singing.

I became free. I became holy.

Cramped and crumbled,

my form lay humbled

on cherry floor. A crumpled

score lay before me —

before I woke

and all I’ve known

lay waiting.

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