Here’s a Thursday Throwback – from 21 February 2013 – that I am sharing at the request of a dear friend.
“Sometimes, He is not pretty.
Disheveled, stinking of piss and filth.
A frightening homeless man
Shouting at me from the other side of the train station:
The face that you often see is nothing but a glamour crafted to be pleasing to you.
But, sometimes, I am tired of that
face, and you will see Me as I am
An ancient being, whose face bears the ravages of time, and what appalling marks
Grief, pain and madness have inevitably made upon Me.
While it may be easy to approach Me in a finer guise,
Silk cravats and topcoats, leather and flash, I am
Also this, at My core. This is also Me.
I am bloated with rage, and careless
grime settled in the creases, compulsively licking
The blood and the spittle that collects at the corners of My ragged lips.
My yellowed, broken teeth have gnawed and ground down upon the offal and
bones of My very long memory.
I call to you
but you must approach Me.
Would you kiss My mouth?
And I see Him across the room, and His voice is interwoven with the cacophony of noise that is noon at South Station, Boston.
I cannot will my feet to go forward, but I see His eyes, the intense clear blue of Icelandic water, His disheveled hair an awkward penumbra of red and gold, His face unshaven and streaked with the filth born of having slept in the elements upon concrete. He raises a hand, and makes a beckoning gesture. Oh I see you, little one, He drawls. I notice that His fingernails are dark with grime, and He smiles, a grin of wolfen teeth, and He licks His cracked lips, waiting.
For all that He looks, His voice is not unpleasant.
But I am afraid.
I am cold, I realize, and I hug myself tighter, as if my own arms could possibly warm me enough, and yet I know that I am holding myself in. This is me putting up all my walls and fronts.
You have so much shame, He shouts, You have learned nothing….
The rumble of the trains pulling into South Station obscures His voice, His tirade, for several minutes.
There are too many trains, I shout, I cannot hear!
He begins to laugh, shaking His head. He tilts His head, almost menacingly, working out a crick in His neck, as He continues, Oh no, my dear. It is as it is always, with you. You are too cold. You cannot hear. You have a headache. You are afraid….
He glares at me.
He pulls a cigarette from the pocket of His shabby, unseasonably thin coat. Oh, spare Me the details of all of your excuses, He snarks at me, loudly, angrily.
He reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker, as He wipes His sore and tattered mouth with the back of His grubby hand, before placing the cigarette deftly on the edge of His lower lip, and lights it.
A lone ribbon of smoke curls and spirals ever upward over His head, strangely unbroken and unbuffeted by the crowd and activity that surges about Him, between us.
Come. Kiss Me. I might believe you.
But I cannot will my feet to go forward. I will have to push myself through this crowd, I am thinking.
The air feels thick and heavy, my head rings with high-pitched buzzing anxiety, and my skin prickles with heat.
Poor little girl, is His singsong sigh, half a sarcasm, half a reprimand, to me, as He shuffles His feet, waiting.
Come to me, He whispers, more within my head than without, and His words seem to reverberate like a humming inward chant, in my head.
Come to Me.
Come to Me.
Come to Me.”