84: coma, interlude 16


my father once told me
a story about a choreographer,
a man who made his life by inventing
masks, who
he said, wore
his own face
but other faces
contriving smiles
and frowns
for whatever occasion

when he looked he saw
bird hands,

saying: my hands
are not my hands,
other hands they are;
and this face, it’s not my face
but a green mask, Monday,
Sunday, a yellow mask,
and see my parrot eyes
blinking, blinking
in the dark
like moons
lit behind by urges
to be other men or women
of fictional origin.

and when he addressed
mirrors, surprised
by the face that addressed him back,
he called himself
by different names
so many ways and lengths
and languages
that at a party he couldn’t remember
how to respond
and walked away
and tossed himself into the garden
from floor thirty.

and became no one
in particular,
a body,
a mash,
a dead thing
put back together
on a table
and then into a bag
then into the ground
to be forgotten.

but that’s impossible, I said,
how could that be,
as we’re always ourselves,
but my father remained quiet
and when I looked at him
he was examining his hands,
hands that had drilled into skulls,
hands that had dripped blood,
hands that had brought
real human beings back
from the sleep of anesthesia
and certain disaster.

he flexed them into claws,
opened them, made fists.
Then he looked
at me and said:
he was a patient of mine.
It’s not impossible.

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