I am the face of the aftermath of divorce, the aftermath of layoff, the aftermath of defeat. I am the face of invisible illness, of piercing isolation, of daily hide-and-seek.
Would you know me if you saw me?
I am your neighbor, your colleague, your sister; I am the woman who yells at the cashier because I am breaking. I am the woman who apologizes afterward, and too often. I will nod and take my change and say thank you. You will not recognize me as the face of despair.
Behind a given face on a given street at a given hour, behind the woman’s face, the mother’s face, the lover’s face – behind the veiled expression and appropriate responses reside a dozen revolving realities, truths as we know them in our blood and marrow, lives reconfiguring as the day unfolds or the night plunges us again into darkness.
* * * * *
Our worlds are tiny, however many times we circle the globe, impress an audience of attentive listeners, make love to men and women who honor our bodies momentarily, then flit to the next conquest. Perhaps we are fortunate, and another soul curls around our quiet, for safekeeping.
We rally around our finest set of inner selves, our unarticulated flaws, our strengths and insecurities, our tenuous connections to loved ones. We adhere to the physicality of sons and daughters, tied to heart beats, to shunts and splints, to lucid dreaming.
Now, I will name my faces and you may guess if they flicker or solidify: I am the face of pride, of wonder, of gratitude; I am the face of rage, of exhaustion, of fear.
* * * * *
This is the terror that hijacks me in the night: impotence as I read my dwindling chapters, disappearance from my own horizons, withdrawal from a competitive sea where numbers dispossess me.
I ache for the register of a lover’s voice, for the caress of a last encounter, for a few hours respite from worry, my body folded into a stranger’s embrace.
We are all strangers. Didn’t you know?
I am not a seer, but I grant power to my predictions; one day, you may understand. I do not wish this on you, but I whisper for those who cower in the corner, paralyzed by our collective silence. Shall we gaze into the mirror together instead, before it is too late? Shall we gather in a circle, speak our minds, unravel our origins, chant our invocations, discover a path beyond the fist and tangle, beyond the woman’s face, the weary acceptance – this indecipherable waste?
© D A Wolf