did it work?
I give a useless tug on my skin, done to reassure me
instead it reaffirms to me:
I am, again, inconsolable.
is the mask I wear today sealed on tight? too tight?
does it hurt to pretend so much?
does it seem clear to anyone else that there are loose ends I've yet to tend to? backdoors I've overlooked?
transparencies? can they see through me?
I bare my teeth. canines, canines from the days of carnivores.
am I that carnivore? in my genes I am.
and in practice?
barely a threat in her form.
this question comes to me under many guises:
an old man asking me: are you that of practice or are you that of genes?
a professor lecturing: are you that of cultivated identity or that of inherited form?
my concerned friends crying:
who are you?
is your mask anything like you?
and then i wake.
it's a terror turned nightly chorus.
recurring nightmares, doctors offer.
i admit i know the content of my dreams to be unfounded:
in life there are no physical masks that do the jobs my terrors depict.
no veil to hide the contours of each flawed personality, no mask to others, just me, weeping-in-the-bathroom, never-myself me
and those attempted favours to be like one another
i'll be like you so you'll like me
i'll like you because i'm like you
so the body charges on in this society like a mirror
cross your left leg when she crosses her right, fold your arms when she's folded hers, raise your hand to say hello, raise your hand to say goodbye
a kiss on the right cheek, a kiss on the left, one more on the left
this is how you show love and a greeting all at once
fold your arms over each other, this is sympathy, this is greeting, do you take comfort in this too?
so you learn to speak with your arms, and you learn to speak with your legs, and you learn to speak with your face, and you learn to speak with your head.
soon your eyes are apprentices of acquaintances, learning to borrow looks like library books, take on others' stories like they've read them end to end.
so in the middle of this process you learn to effectively say:
i see you, i hear you, i perceive you.
and in these attempted favours, at the end of your night terrors, is the parrot that they want to see. the parrot that you argue, can't really be me.