Theme I: Habits, “Pink Eye”

By Kiyomi Taylor

Stop rubbing your eyes so much he says. He does not understand I must knead it to keep it quelled. He has some intimation of mottled legs and unrealized road trips. He is aware of irresolution. But not the act of stepping on charcoal, not a vulnerability to the wind, not heavy identification with the baby bat. (i’ll name you stellaluna)
Once I was careless and unleashed a monsoon on a C train.

And the other night I spoke too freely. (somebody stop me) I feared the birds of prey behind my eye sockets would ooze into the room, leave spiny black feathers in my molars on their way out. Birds capable of picking up small children. They have no business in this smoky room filled with perspiring limbs, and the eyes of a people amused. I exhale smoke and say, “I love it when a joke lands.” (do it again) I exhale smoke and say, “I love it when a joke lands.”

God forbid they discover what lies beneath this face; emergent nations and deserts where it rains only twice a year. More than one yeti. A blue whale carcass blooded with a perpetual cloud of eel. (birds capable of picking up small children)

I have never seen it. (wait until dark) I squeeze at its fabric at night in front of the mirror. Check for peepholes through which one might be able to see ghost ships. I’ve heard that it’s
expressive. In seventh grade a boy who liked me told me it was pretty when it is expressionless. My brother tells me, that we can be consoled knowing that we have ‘warm’ looking faces. He used the word approachable and smiled. (it’s working) I wondered if his too was a shabbily composed answer to a series of spherical black holes. (wait until dark) All unanswerable.

I must hush it up with my fingers. With enough kneading, I can turn a window to blight into an amusing and emotionally poignant theatre. On good nights the audience claps very seriously and is so overwhelmed with validation so as to look concerned. Sometimes, I rub my eyes so
hard that they ring. But I think that these are just the waves beating into the flesh of my eyeballs. (wait until dark) Sometimes, I squeeze my pores so hard that watercolor roses bloom from them like wind fall. But I think those are just the black wings beating. (we will fly at night) In the mornings I wipe the charcoal out of the corners of my eyes.


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