Tamed by starched collars or looped by the noose, all hail the stem that holds up the frail cranial buttercup. The neck throbs with dread of the guillotine's kiss, while the silly, bracelet-craving wrists chafe in their handcuffs. Your one and only neck, home to glottis, tonsils, and many other highly specialized pieces of meat, is covered with stubble. Three mornings ago, undeserving sinner though she is, yours truly got to watch you shave in the bath. Soap matted your chest hair. A clouded hand mirror reflected a piece of your cheek. Vapor rose all around like spirit-infested mist in some fabled rainforest. The throat is the road. Speech is its pilgrim. Something pulses visibly in your neck as the words hand me a towel flower from your mouth.
Through what precinct of life’s forest are you hiking at this moment?
Are you kicking up leaf litter or stabbed by brambles?
Of what stuff are you made? Gossamer or chain mail?
Are you, as reputed, marvelously empty? Or invisibly ever- present,
even as this missive is typed? Have you been to Easter Island? Yes?
Then I’m jealous. Do you use a tongue depressor as bookmark?
Are you reading this at an indecent hour by flashlight?
Plenty of scholarly ink has been spilt praising readers like yourself,
who risk radical dismantling, or being unmasked, by rappelling
deep into sentences. Your trigger warnings could be triggered every
second, yet you forge on, mystic syllables detonating in your head,
the metal-edged smell of monsoon-downpour on hot asphalt
raising steam in your imagination. You hold out for the phrase
with which the soul resonates, am I right? Reading, you’re seized
by tingly feelings, a rustling in the brain, winds that tickle your scalp,
bubbles erupting from a blow hole at the back of your neck.
You forget the breathy woman talking softly on TV across the lobby
(via TiVo you’ve saved her for later.) Birds outside are cracking jokes
and cackling. Reader, smile to yourself, rock the cradle, kiss
everyone you wish to kiss, and please keep reading. It beats
fielding threatening phone calls for $15 an hour which is what
yours truly is meant to be doing right now, instead of speculating
on the strange and happy manifestations of, you, dear reader, you.