(imagine and picture your FAVOURITE THEATRE
remember that the SETTING tonight is
the stage you built)
first, i went to air my ***** laundry out
cautiously and deftly peel off the skin
from all the places touched and fold it up neatly
away, to be put into drawers
and brought out to wallow
on nights like these
the unmaking of a person is violent, yes
but it dully smells, too.
it is ***** and reeking with sharp dried sweat
wicked away in the cold
i go to fold away the memory of that cold
of my - huh, what’s the word -
b-b-b-bravery braced bent back breaking
on the side of a road that gritted its teeth
and i go to put the loneliness away too
in a suffocating airing cupboard
to not let it draw breath while it
watches the world go by
through a faltering crack in the door
(what did you do, those of you sat in the wings
and those of you pulling the strings
you washed your hands, reflexively.
you washed your hands again and again.
so nobody would think this dirt rubbed off)
now i am expected to empty the dishwasher
in front of a yawning kitchen window that
lets in not a chill but a blizzard and i am
unclothed unloading the dishes
i try to cover myself with a plate but there are
accusing eyes at the window here
to gawp at nakedness whilst i stacked bowls
into the teetering towers of a tiring told tale
i drop a misplaced cup and step on it
fall over -
doing a jig of pain, red hot embarrassing
feet dribbling lazy scarlet on the wet floor
what a spectacle, what a show, encore?
(and for those of you in the front row
i am deeply sorry.
proximity is pricier and more painful
and what i regret about this graceless fall
is that you had to witness it at all)
but all that’s left is to sweep the floor
so then i kneel down and sit there legs in dust,
inhaling until my bones are sandpaper and
chafing against the inside of my skin.
draw the curtain and
let me sit a while, please. in this dirt.
let me sit a while in this dirt.
oh, i know. i know my knees are white and
it is settling into my hair and inside my eyes
but i just want to sit here and be *****.
i have the broom - i am holding it, see?
to sweep away and brush apart and
pack it all up into a breathlessly shiny sack
but not just yet
(bored now, you make to leave)
unfinished i step underwater
but the shower is scalding and yes -
yes the ash falls off and the hollow thud
becomes a wet sludge
eking itself through the drain
leaving a grand total of nothing behind.
(SPOTLIGHT: and suddenly! the airing cupboard bursts open and reveals that the piles of laundry still reek, stinking sharply of sweat and ***! and it seems my dishes are still *****, lines of grease splattering down the clay! oh and the floor is just as gritty, smudging oil into the creases!
you in the wings, tired of this PLOT TWIST
you pulling the strings - wishing to cut them
you in front, i am sorry again but -
i can’t bear to try and clean again so -
let me sit and pretend, please
yes, yes, in this dirt with the curtain drawn
just a little bit more and i will get over it and
go through another spring of cleaning onstage so
please, let me -
let me sit here just a little while longer.)