The Shattering Stress

I’m undecided on this piece, but it’s helped me out a lot in terms of breaking through my writer’s block. It evolved strangely, and I just kind of let it happen.

Oscillating up and down lazily, momentum gathering,
Pushing further and further above the suburban rooftops,
Above the diagonally-cut lawns that don’t wink techno-heavy
Patterns at you from the street as you roll past them,
Above the memory-ghosts of figures on the street, their eyes
Following you with that special breed of contempt
The upper middle-class manage with preternatural ease,
You flip at the apex of your jump, the world rotating
Around you at breakneck speed, once, twice, thrice around-
Too many revolutions for physics to claim with its laws,
Gaining speed with each turn, trapped in a nexus of
Color and motion, losing the ability to see with real clarity
The world as it rushes past around you, below you, gone.

Days pass, weeks maybe, your tightly curled form hugging itself
As you hurtle past the stretches of your small reality.
Sometimes you cry, great tears of confusion and fear
That splash back into your eyes as you revolve faster and faster
And a techno-trash punk beat resonates through your arms,
In your throat, behind your hipbones, near your tongue.
Sometimes you sleep, the fitful sleep of anxious necessity,
And when you wake up you spend hours or seconds
Attempting to focus your eyes, to get your bearings,
To make sense of the chaos spiraling around you,
Until once day you open your eyes to find a great dark nothing
Stretched out before you, and you contemplate it, motionless.

In the nothingspace, your mind still reels, attempting to determine
Whether you are standing upright or not, and you slam your eyes shut,
Willing yourself to believe that you are standing there, in the dark,
Feet planted firmly on the invisible, yet tangible, ground,
And sure enough, you feel the solidity of space beneath your feet
Warp and change until it becomes like neatly packed earth,
And you don’t allow yourself to wonder if maybe this development
Is all in your head, that madness has settled in your mind,
Instead, you step forward cautiously, eyes still closed tightly,
Wending your way through the nothingspace on shaking legs,
And more by unconscious action than plan, you lift your lids
When the quality of darkness before them seems to change,
But there is nothing there but the now-familiar abyss,
And you collapse to what is passing as the ground.

Something burns across your skin, soft as a breath, a sigh,
But solid and pliant in the way of flesh, pressing gently
Against your shoulder, dragging up and away in a heartbeat.
You panic, groping blindly around you in the nothingspace,
Writhing and twisting spasmodically on the ground,
When a voice, more like memory than sound, says your name-
Just your name, once, a not-quite-sound drifting like a snowflake,
And when the hand reaches for you again, you step mechanically
Into the folds of this invisible stranger’s embrace, closing
Your eyes in confusion, only to be more out-of-sorts when the
Flashburn outline of the stranger’s neck and shoulder are
Highlighted against the backdrop of your closed lids, and
You gasp, a sound so sharp and loud in the hollow darkness
That you jump, startled by the immediacy of your own voice,
And the half-chuckle of your mostly invisible partner makes
You smile, a genuine smile of warmth and security.

You spend hours in the arms of the ghost, of the memory,
Of the being you may have only dreamed into existence,
Lying on the ground, limbs tangled up with this tangible lack,
Speaking without words like a half-remembered fantasy,
And years later, minds having wrapped themselves together
So tightly that it would be impossible to extricate one
From the quiet grasp of the other, you fall into a deep sleep.

When you awaken, you’re lying in your long-forgotten backyard,
Sprawled on a trampoline and staring up at the brilliant cascade
Of stars shaping themselves into images and patterns in the sky,
And you gasp, struggling with sensory overload as you reach out,
Grasping for a hand that isn’t there, your mind suddenly naked
And alone in this bright, overbearing world of color and sound,
You curl into a ball and close your eyes, willing it all gone,
Only to fall asleep, lulled by the gentle rocking of your own sobs.

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