Image used by permission of Gail Baker
You might think I’m an infant.
You might be right.
I can’t remember,
but it seems unlikely that,
as an infant,
I felt this kind of pain.
This kind of anger and doubt and emptiness.
As cooing, soft, young and sensitive flesh,
I don’t think I understood the danger.
Now, though, I lie in my cradle,
the fleeting, flashy, nearly translucent cocoon of endless silk
the dangling rattle to occupy my attention.
It hangs there,
not connected to any one thread but my body.
The cocoon is always there.
Every solitary night
I forget what it’s like to be alone.
Did I ever really know?
Sometimes, I can keep it at bay.
I can hold off the mummifying, volatile cocoon
protecting the rest of me
from the silent strangling.
But I know
I always know
that I want it.
I reach up to grab it
and, of course,
it drops with all its weight
straight onto my stomach
pinning me in place.
Mostly I feel shame.
I unraveled the cocoon.
I lifted my arm and looked up and pulled it down onto my organs, tender and innocent.
I didn’t have to.
I didn’t want to.
I knew what would happen.
This is not the first time.
I know what that tempting and taunting package holds inside.
I know it so well I don’t have any room left to know myself.
I tug that hanging poison
even when my body rejects it,
does everything in its power to prevent the onslaught.
I wrench the silk out of the sky
(it’s never beyond my reach)
with a malicious grin
and a sharp cackle.
I think I’m being clever.
But every time,
it’s the same.
when I am light,
and I can convince myself that the cocoon is far,
far above me,
I know it’s there.
I feel its presence,
its fragility and its dependence on my every thought.
It always threatens to collapse at any time
falling squarely on my head and entangling my entire body.
It does warn me, though.
And every time, I pull it down.
I’m the only one who can.
It whispers to me
and takes on different forms
but it doesn’t fool me.
We’ve been acquainted far too long.
But I can fool myself.
Well, that’s what I say.
I justify my defiance of every screaming particle of myself
and flatten all my innards.
My bundle sends me pictures
of everything I could have been
everything I’m not
every rule I’m breaking
I’m all too aware of.
I can’t be the only one.
I’m not that delusional
to think only I know this kind of suffering.
The world doesn’t care about me enough
to create a unique closet hell just for me.
I’m not that special.
But why can’t I see everyone else’s cocoons?
Why don’t I hear the whispers,
the crashes of dragging down the sky
against all morals and values and beliefs and knowledge
to spontaneously self-destruct
over and over again?
Why don’t I notice the others
fighting, always fighting
to push the tangle ever farther
in agony even when they’re not being crushed
because they know the only culprit
and they can’t find it in themselves to love it.
The ruthless criminal
is the only savior,
or so they tell me.
if I cut the string
just cut it loose,
cease my endless reaching and deafening shame,
let the threads entwine themselves across and around and over and above and through me
squashing every beating, moving, throbbing, living parasite
wringing out every stagnant drop,
my eyes would open to the billions of cocoons
doubtlessly suspended throughout space,
they would complete their metamorphosis
Art by Gail Baker