Thin hands, long fingers:
Perhaps meant for a life of playing glossy piano keys
Or traveling the neck of a violin.
But there are no ebony-ivory keys:
Just ebony brows and ivory skin.
–No silken brown strings,
Just silken brown hair,
Rumpled by the chest of a pillow.
A frail, protracted spine curving
Like the capitol ‘S’ that opens his name—
Freckles like one hundred ellipses
Trailing and drawling along his elegiac face.
Pale eyes, grey like the polished linoleum tile
That cakes the hospital floor like skin,
Grey like the raining air outside the window
That always remains just out of his reach.
Parentheses cheeks, indents of collarbones,
Shoulders that frame a long neck like twin hyphens
Cradling an unruly word.
His ribs cocoon against his sides:
Margins that hold back the paragraphs inside him,
The click—click—click of his typewriter heart and
The dilatory, broken couplets of his fractured lungs
Like fragment sentences.
The flushed crook of an elbow emerges
From the folds of his gown:
A knotted comma that separates and conjoins
The two parts of his arms, which lay folded across his belly,
Lilting along to the unsteady verses of his breath.
His life could have been a poem, an epic:
Lyrical, grand, long and free.
Instead, it is a limerick, a sonnet—
Bound by syllables and parameters and lines.
He is trapped within his own pages,
Between the front and back covers
Of his body and his mind
Like a sad, beautiful book
That had all the potential in the world
Had it only been written!
His youth falls victim to
The spilled, hungry ink of sickness
That clots and stains his table of contents,
Obscuring the chapters to come,
Suffocated, stifled, brief.
Now his novel is a short story
With loose ends and unresolved characters
And a bitter protagonist cheated of a proper ending,
Forever yearning for a happily-ever-after
So hazy, so abstract that he sometimes wonders
Whether it even existed at all.
His life is a brilliant story
From a brilliant mind:
If only it had reached the paper.
art, writing (c) me