The little girl sits in the middle of a room on a floor made of the places I’ve walked:
the rubber of a gym floor, blue, coffee-stained carpet, and city streets.
She is reflected in the mirror-paneled walls, mirrors of different colors for the feelings I’ve rejected: purple passion and white anger, euphoria like cobalt.
She can’t see the colors; I don’t know what they feel like.
She sits with one leg tucked under, staring at me with dark eyes that I cannot hold
and that make my heart surge into my throat
threaten to shatter the glass,
and not just the mirrors,
but the glaze over my eyes, that fossilization of memory.
The ferocity of her desire is warming this crystalline tomb, fogging my heart with its breath.
Cracking my desperately patched-up floors and
shaking my hastily-erected walls.
The electricity of the white mirror reflects in those irises, and even at my distance
I am caught in the current
of her anger,
each letter etched in the space between
two glass panes
with a screeching fingernail–
let me out.
I am terrified.
Terrified that if I give in and let this crystallized catacomb collapse
I will not be able to stand beneath the breaking
and she will turn on me, rip up my floors
and carry them with her.
Something touches my fingers, and hers seize. Shoulder blades convulsing, she begins to weep.
The mirrors are shifting:
bluish to slate to black,
and her sobs hammer into the floor.
My stomach recoils and lurches together.
I despise her youth. Hate her waywardness and years of simply missing it.
I resent her pretense,
her painted face
and programmed heart,
the long afternoons of lying prone next to him
and the long years of a heart prone to lying–
all of the things she was the brought death and deserve to be buried.
I could turn my back and walk away right now.
But greater than my recoil is the lurch.
I want to risk stepping through the mirrors to shield her with my arms from that blackness.
I want to weep for her brokenness and my own understanding that causes me to hate her ignorance.
I want to hold her and cry, “I forgive you. Please, forgive me.”
She looks up at me, cheeks stained wet. I meet her eyes.
The black is fading to gray. To white. To the palest yellow.
Our hearts are twisting in sync, our eyes reflecting that tortured, common plea:
let me out.