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take a walk with my whimsy
A Long Pantomime

 

Are you relieved once the first sentence is spoken? The wire lowers you to the ground but despite the synchronized choreography you’ve been rehearsing for months, you forget you’re going to be yanked off your feet again. You hold yourself in the first position, back broad, neck arched, your arms bent forward in a hug lending some softness to your frame. Another sound escapes through the bypass of the chorus wailing in the background. It’s a hungry voice, punctilious, punctuated, a baritone echoing in the cave.  It’s foreign too, cackling in a laugh spoken in another language and your own singing pales in comparison, out-of-key, shuffling between the notes like the melt off a chocolate statue. Every step in the programming of this choreography is over-exposure, a smiling in the rearview mirror at the driver behind you and expecting a response.

The audience is settled, unmoved. They watch you like a stranger, a passing shape as seen through a moving window sometimes in steady motion, other times a tornado of arms and lungs and feet. Some fidget, some part their lips to let little squeals escape, some stare and wear down your bones, contouring your frame against the stage props where the mercy of the light is. They give you silence first, later applause.

There’s a particular spin in this routine that reminds you of the years you used to practice in the far corner of the hall that connected the laundry, guest and living rooms, where your parents had replaced all the cane chairs with a frayed-edge red carpet. You used to invite friends over to watch you and those who were impressed would always stay longer, for tea and snacks and if it were the weekend, a late-night movie. You were always moving; high on your toes scuttling into the kitchen when someone asked for butter, your snake arms bending over and under the faucet to wash, your neck sliding out of the blanket in an arch in the morning. There’s also that spotlight on cue that reminds you how when pressure acts on carbon, it turns into things. This is your secret with the stage and when the first act of the day breaks and you notice it, your tongue thrusts up in a backward smile. The audience is distracted by your physical disarrangement, calves over shoulders, earlobes just inches away from knees; their hawking passes through the chest shaped hole without a whisper or concern.

It’s not a speech, it’s not a series of thoughts spoken in time, it’s not a rehearsal of the kind that must always appear unrehearsed. Your body is the lyric. The audience hangs on to your every word even in moments when your head is full of empty. They can’t hear your vena cava wrapping itself around the back bones with a torn up scarf crying about its weight, crying about its rips, crying about how you can’t stop the flow. The flow. The flow. The flowowowowow.

You’re the third point in an isosceles triangle between what you can and don’t understand, especially once you surrender to the aerial view and there they all are, the rest of them, their mouths stupidly ajar, their noses a crooked mess. In fact their faces are no longer faces you realize the longer you stare. They turn into a digested goop of pink, such traceless faces that even with just one of them in the mosh pit, the pantomime is unharmed.

You push your pelvis up, moving deeper into the orange lights and raising your legs in point as steadily as the shells of artillery. Rotating wildly around one fixed point your body dries up fast, faster with two, three, four, five turns. You stop. It’s planned. You can’t pretend you’re not tired. You’re holding all your breath in your mouth but heaven forbid they see you pant. When the pant swivels into an itch, you want to itch a speck of a scratch on the side of your nose but your arms are busy, extended, now wildly encircling the air around them. It’s ironic that this occurs at the very moment your body appears free from the bondage of flesh and muscles, calves to shoulders again, earlobes to knees again, nothing but a chest shaped hole again. You push your face away from the light. Someone in the audience scratches their nose.

Perhaps it’s the chiaroscuro effect of the sequins on your retina, but you see it, you really can see this audience member touching their nose, stuffing their podgy fingers inside their nasal cavity and digging, really digging for something perhaps a clue as to whether they are man or woman or just audience member, observant, static and alone. It could have hurt, it must have hurt badly except you have been missing your heart for a while, not remembering where and when you dropped it or which performance it was or which city you were in or who came or who didn’t come. Perhaps it was the one at which none of your friends came and your mother left you a note saying she would be late but she never came either. Like all things that dive in and out of life like a puddle of water, it probably leaped into someone’s lap or straight through the stage door underground where you’ve seen the others making smoke of white pearls with their bare hands.

It’s amongst these flashing lights that time touches its apex, a stretched white sheet across an electrocardiogram making waves of desperation, the quiet announcement that death is or has or will pass. You don’t feel like wearing the skin anymore. How odd that time matches your mood like a swatch of white cloud laid across the fabric of a blue day. The meeting is angular, falsified by a knife, a boneless body cut into two halves, unhappy lovers trying desperately to part ways, and the center of your gravity is nothing more than the tipping point.

There’s a light filled with a yayo sadness that couldn’t belong to anything except your heart, so it must be there, in here or out there, somewhere. You couldn’t have lost it. What a painful discovery you make as your feet find the floor again. All you want to do is stop. Your body a vibrating car engine about to break down, your fingers filled with superfluous mechanical fluid or you would point at the lonely voice that shouts encore, encore.

But because you are a figurine with a button hidden in your greasy flat hair, your arms and legs are made of clay, your lips are rehearsed, you stroke your ego like the upset hairs of a wet cat, you don’t make a sound, you barely breathe.