Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Built A Wall Around My Self

A thick wall of mortar and stone and cement and glue, an amalgam of parts and substance, encrusted ideas and fossilized bones. Part wood, part stone, part metal…affixed with barbed wire along the steep edges and stuffed with body parts and memories and the collected refuse of so many lifetimes. Like the builders of the great wall of china, this wall is composed of forgotten flesh and metal hammers and the silenced stories that were swallowed and with a single final breath.
And the wall, it was constructed without plans, without consent or even a crude brainstorm sketched on a crumpled napkin. Its ongoing construction has lasted more than twenty years, the ongoing project that never comes to a close…the workers in orange vests continue to show up, rain or shine, as they have for years, each bearing my face and my dirty hands, yet I have no memory of digging the foundation. There are no pictures that shed light on its beginning, no memories that flutter in my fragmented mind, reminding me why there are piled bricks and shovel handles and femur bones protruding from the great walls.
Its erection must have begun before my first memory congealed, perhaps watching helplessly from my crib as my mother left the room, perhaps when I cried unattended in the shadow of the forgotten moon. This wall began without my direct knowledge, and yet, it was I who built it. These hands who I look at with a stranger’s eye, these rough hands put each piece in place, each stone dug from the ground, each row of brick, each scoop of cement in place, this work was done by me, me alone.
Perhaps each smooth stone was inspired by an event, an interpreted stare, a defeat, an imposed darkness…inspired and then, because I remained asleep at the wheel of this four limbed vehicle, I gathered my stones and I mixed my cement, like a one eyed witch stirring a pot of some foul smelling potion, and I placed those hard rocks firmly in place. With thick resolve, with renewed wrath, with victory playing in my ears, I watched the substance harden by the second, gray mush to thick glue to unconquerable solid strength and, surrounded by stone and brick and metal, I basked in the solitude of my defense, my fortress, my singular city.
I awake for a second from this chamber, and clearing the sleep from my eyes, I see the walls have spawned another life topped with sparkling horns of fire, and a beating heart and they have grown beyond my control, beyond the thickness of my desire, beyond my understanding…I put them here, but I cannot get them down. The walls are so thick, covered in spikes and razor blades and blood-covered thorns and I want them gone, I want to step outside these walls and taste the air of freedom, true freedom from self imposed exile, but I cannot climb them, I cannot scale them, no ladder is tall enough and the helicopters do not come this close.
And then, as I sleep, I retreat into the cave.
Sometimes I am in the middle, wishing for a door, yet finding the bed is all too warm and comfortable. All too familiar in its smell. Which way is right? Is there a wrong way? Is there black or white or red? Or are all these colors merely shades in an illusion of rainbows that peak in the height of my delusion. The walls are thick, and the sounds of music flows through me like a ghost, the heart within me accepts its message and I search for the door once again.

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