Without a hand behind your head your neck would snap,
so we cradle your soft skull with delicate adult fingers;
and when your bones harden, we string your arms and legs,
tweak your limbs like screw-jointed teak, until—magically,
they come alive themselves—reaching for anything:
electrical sockets, sharp objects, ledges and rims,
puddles of dubious liquid. It's as if you need a another jolt
to attest you're truly alive. So when we find you
sitting on the edge, dangling your little feet six storeys
above oncoming traffic— as if it were a wading pond
in a Sunday park in August—it comes as no great surprise;
we are quiet as vespers, tiptoe from behind, grab you
under your arms in one fell swoop, then cage you, well in sight.
Witness: pimples and pin pricks,
tingling under your skin, like the fertile eggs of aliens,
squirming between layers as you shed your surfaces:
expand and contract, billow and ball. There are days
you feel you will just implode, can't see straight
for all the hair in front of your eyes, just feet and hard floors,
and somewhere, far in the distance, the end of the road.
You become familiar with the taste of graphite, wood
and rubber; learn to enjoy it, like you're sucking on a thought;
meanwhile, you spit stems of green veg, behind the radiator
in the kitchen, growing mould. You learn to appreciate
the cool majesty of brewed hops, chilled at 5 degrees
above freezing point; and the stiffness that points ahead,
in the dark, early hours of morning, still going nowhere, really.
You cut the strings running through your hands and feet
all by yourself, with cheap nail clippers from a clam-pack,
spit syllables and expletives, adorn your ears with golden rings,
just like past and future kings—those adored by the masses,
of which, you are certainly not some. Nowhere close.
Witness: the great collective,
a group of single-minded, fearless, daughters and sons,
once born alone, now reborn as one; like-minded
and replete with barbed tongues, brandishing books,
sometimes on the run; you complete the fold,
a tome of untold changes to be cheered, held high,
waved aloft in public spaces, it soars like fireworks,
but scatters like ashes, in tiny, cracked shards,
gathered in a pan. You strip yourself down to something
other than yourself: naked, essential, Vitruvian man;
so you can squeeze unencumbered through any tube or tunnel;
then, come out the other side. Smiling.
Marc Vincenz was born in Hong Kong and currently lives in Iceland writes a column for The Reykjavik Grapevine. His novel, Animal Soul, is forthcoming in China.
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