“Performing for you”

I stand here naked
like another prisoner.
My arms reach high.
My palms briefly
welded to monkey bars.
The ground falls out—
and it is all of you that hold the rug.
I just hang here. I dangle here
like the only perfect pear left;
The highest grown in any tree.
The ground seems
one hundred feet below now
and the distance continues to grow.
My audience points at me, cruelly,
enjoying how I sway to every wave of applause;
My toes twitch as though the act
might summon some biblical ladder
to show the mercy I never deserved.
My trembling turns over to laughter.
I begin laughing uncontrollably,
knowing now,
whatever mess I make from here
will not be my own to clean up— anymore—
and whatever perfection I once was
will only be a distant memory for some;
The lucky ones who witness me now, naked and swinging.
There is no humiliation for me as I feel my fingers release.
I am laughing uncontrollably, my voice box shivering
like wind chimes in the breaking of the stillest night.
But you are embarrassed to watch me fall. That I had to fall.
That you waited so long, watching, pointing, praying—
to make certain I do not live out my days so high.
But even as I fall, I am still laughing,
and my laughter stretches on forever
for those lucky ones who hear me now,
laughing, laughing, laughing.
And tonight while they dream
they will hear me hit ground,
in the instant they wake at 3AM.
And I will still be laughing
as they strip naked
and step into the shower.
Now it is they who are dangling.
And it is my turn to point,
while I laugh uncontrollably—
no longer a prisoner high in my tree,
performing for you like stars in the night.

narrative poem written on 10-08-2010 by: on mattkane.com
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