One night, through the oil-slick skin of sleep,
you surface to find they've spun the room around
and every side of the sheet's been tucked in.
You have to struggle just to get out of bed and
you can't find the light switch, just a panic that's
the axis upon which your story now spins.
You stand there in your pyjamas and sweat,
palms pressed against the wall,
with a self crouched down deep inside
too scared to call for help. The world,
anyway, wouldn't give a shit. You go back
to the mattress, legs dangling over the edge
like a tired fisherman, catchless.
As the years pass, the dark steps back to show
the only world you've ever felt you could call
your own - the corners of posters stained
with blu-tac, the cracked face of a clock
thrown one morning against the wall, fingers
of dolls reaching out from under cupboards, and
the tall and broad mirror, which you now accept
is a window. Through it you catch a snapshot
of one edge of the schoolyard canvas - a cruel
patch of asphalt freckled with blood under a tree
the boy at the bottom didn't want to try to climb.
He's on his knees, clutching a handkerchief,
holding his hand close to his chest as he
stands up to join a huddle of others who've
pooled their money to buy porn. Before words
can form, he's trapped in the image and becomes
a copy of the vacant gaze. He looks back
at you, back at it, can't meet anyone else's eyes -
he's confused, and then you're out there in his
shoes, looking back up into the dark room at your
self, locked in. The old curtains are wide open.
Everything is exposed. In each others' eyes,
you catch the sight of a white flag waving
in the wind of a quiet boy's barely-held breath,
and he's crouched down deep inside you,
seems to see no point in coming out,
refuses to be a man about any of it.
When you hear the hinges creak,
and the outside world creeps in,
your great achievement will be to find
the words that explain this position.