UNFINISHED DUET

RICHARD SIKEN

At first there were too many branches
so he cut them and then it was winter.
He meaning you. Yes. He would look out
the window and stare at the trees that once
had too many branches and now seemed
to have too few. Is that all? No, there were
other attempts, breakfasts: plates served,
plates carried away. He doesn’t know
what to do with his hands. He likes the feel
of the coffeepot. More than the hacksaw?
Yes, and he likes flipping the chairs,
watching them fill with people. He likes
the orange juice and toast of it, and waxed
floors in any light. He wants to be tender
and merciful. That sounds overly valorous.
Sounds like penance. And his hands?
His hands keep turning into birds and
flying away from him. Him being you.
Yes. Do you love yourself? I don’t have to
answer that. It should matter. He has a
body but it doesn’t matter, clean sheets
on the bed but it doesn’t matter. This is
where he trots out his sadness. Little black
cloud, little black umbrella. You miss
the point: the face in the mirror is a little
traitor, the face in the mirror is a pale
and naked hostage and no one can tell
which room he’s being held in. He wants
in, he wants out, he wants the antidote.
He stands in front of the mirror with a net,
hoping to catch something. he wants to
move forward into the afternoon because
there is no other choice. Everyone in this
room got here somehow and everyone in
this room will have to leave. So what’s left?
Sing a song about the room we’re in?
Hammer in the pegs that fix the meaning
to the landscape? The voice wants to be
a hand and the hand wants to do something
useful. What did you really want? Someone
to pass this with me. You wanted more.
I want what everyone wants. He raises
the moon on a crane for effect, cue the violins.
That’s what the violins are for. And yes,
he raises the moon on a crane and scrubs it
until it shines. So what does it shine on?
Nothing. Was there no one else? Left-handed
truth, right-handed truth, there’s no pure
way to say it. The wind blows and it makes
a noise. Pain makes a noise. We bang on
the pipes and it makes a noise. Was there
no one else? His hands keep turning into
birds, and his hands keep flying away
from him. Eventually the birds must land.

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