Whistles and Contaminations
His great-aunt said she understood:
these were mouth-marks the blind angels left,
as they whirred against the walls,
voices stiff as engraving,
unable to evoke a door. Something opens
with small stings, like the shuttle of glasses.
As if the background of laughter
were painted slap-dash, it becomes
almost obscene, bathes the walls,
a flimsy fog through which anyone
could see, or the slowest asthmatic breathing —
And the search for a break, the leak
in the lead-lined holding tank of stars —
his skin branded by the angels' impossibility.
Later he searched for evocative headstones,
unequivocal positions for again and O.
Antidotes for claustrophobic jokes, for toasts
to a happiness no one could bear.
Aunt Bell loudly asked, “Is the torture
the laughter, or is it torture to laugh?”
Locked in the coldest room, practicing
its reticence, the glazed look he cannot
fit his face into, he tries to close off
the night's white-washed sobbing, its cries
that convulsed from false renunciation
to delight. Behind curtains too heavy
to lift, a manic piano won't stop:
its keys strike down like a person
choking, and continuing to choke.
And he dreams of an ocean,
a loud ocean of glasses still empty
and beckoning to be filled with something,
some redness to line what can't be shown,
a tangible poison, a stain.
New Writing: The International Journal of the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing 3:2 (November 2006): 123.