On Crying in Public, or
On Kissing Strangers

Poetry - 2015

When you open yourself up to the unknown
You take on a coat of vulnerability.
Turning to those who do not know you,
Your body,
Your eyes,
You present a blank slate.
When you try on their gaze for size,
Test the waters of their mouth,
And find it neither flooded nor arid,
You can be anything
That they want you to be.

Some people will look through you,
Or past you,
Or just away.
Some will stare straight into you,
Piercing your skull to check on the shadows that rest inside.
Most will close their eyes,
It is too painful a thing to watch.
Maybe they are pretending you are someone else.
Maybe they are pretending you are not there.

There are no words, only murmurs,
Slurred around saliva.
This is a private thing,
But you have brought it out here.
People have curious eyes;
Return the favour through a salt-stained face,
Wretched and reckless,
Played out on the silver screen of your mind.
This mirror reflects on both sides.

Intimate moments
Were not made to be shared this way.
You are the most comfortable person in the room,
Unlocked and unprotected,
Free for the taking by whoever is closest
Until they turn to leave.
Allow each pair of eyes to, in turn,
Desecrate your body.
Grant them this mercy.

When you are alone once more,
Wipe the spit from your lips and leave.
Your only trace
Will be in haunted memories.

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