traci brimhall & brynn saito

The Library

Standing in the book aisle like a broken tulip,

searching for a history.  What has happened

to your self from six years ago, and why

can't you remember the title of the book

that says a word once divided land from sea,

light from shadow? Every story is a door.

Run your fingers over the dusted spines

holding stories of wolf-hearted gods and glorious war.

How can you believe there are answers here?

Here, where villains teach you about heroes,

here, where the usual angel betrays the Lord for

the sake of a boy's beauty.  You know all

the names for god, but you've forgotten how

to speak. Tonight, when the light goes, place

your two hands over your heart. A sadness

exists there that existed before language.

It will outlast you. It will outlast every page here.

Dusk comes, like a wise man.  The library

is stone quiet but your mind is storm

in August.  In the half-light, a hand appears

to write on the wall: Here is your sorrow and here

is how to survive it. Rising waters will one day

spare nothing, not even the word.  Not even

your hunger—the only sign that you are living.

The Theater

This is where you saw women sing to reenact

their suffering, and men who wore wooden swords

taught you valor. The costumes are still

behind the curtain, so are the masks worn by players

to perform the heart's madness. When the girl on stage

wore god's many faces, you wept in relief.

How long have you waited to be shown your own

disfigured faith?  How many years have you waited

to return to what you feared, like a child who hides

from the monster of its own making?  Stage right,

a brutal wonderland.  Stage left, the torn century. 

Watch now your girlhood as it enters 

with abundant despair and the ribbons you wore

to your father's funeral. Under the dust, you find

the sets of predictable tragedies: the star-crossed

balcony, the castle where the king banished

his firstborn, then searched for him everywhere.  Return
to the dark and listen for the moan of the orchestra's

shy beginning.  When the curtains rise for the third time,

you will see a casket inside a cradle and the feast

of shadows.  The music that rises is alive with strings

and vowels.  You won't understand what it means,

but it will sound like salvation.  In your brightest hour,

you'll forget the fourth wall.  You'll become

what you see now, and what your hear.  The ideal shines

beneath the stage lights—the immaculate one, with

a burning heart and a broken rib. At the final bow,

the ingénue—her dress still torn, her arms burdened

with the ghosts of roses—bows for the clamorous audience

whose cries she hears but who she cannot see.