I never see my own face

I never see my own face
I come close to a familiar stranger
a few feet away in the bathroom
a sliver in a hand mirror
pressed close

At night in shadow’s promenade
I see a crushed moon
and obedient satellites
reflect steady in the gloom
and the faces
of everyone I’ve known
dance the surface pulse
in and out
at my temples

Young and old
blank and skeleton
and bliss
play across the void

And watching
I pray
with marble heart
and hands
I do not recognize
myself

Thank you

I take another step forward
and the voices get louder
I can hear babies cry
and deep angry voices boom
and I feel a little girl tug at my leg
and bony fingers prod my spine
I feel them all before I turn
I know their hearts
I know their thoughts
as well as I know my own
I face them

There is a collective intake of breath
as I look at them
truly look at them for the first time
I see a fear on their faces
an anger
a hatred
a sadness
but underneath
concern
Even those that pushed me
that taunted me
that hounded me
and kicked me as I was broken
I see it deep
behind the sneers and scowls

I look at each of them
Every single one
in the gap between breath
that seems to stretch into impossible
as if time is holding out
for what is supposed to happen
in this moment
in this place

I swallow
I open my mouth
as they seem to lean back
slightly bracing
‘Thank you’

The release doesn’t come
They stand staring at me
confused
and I’m not sure if they think
this is a trick
or a new game
I’m playing with them
but no one blinks

‘Thank you’
I repeat
louder
and I pull the meaning
from the base of myself
where I never knew
I could access before
and I’m not sure I really could
The ground shudders
and still no one moves

I bend down
and take the young girls hand
and she looks at me with huge eyes
I squeeze her hand
gently
as I say to her
with all the love I find now
inside myself
‘Thank you’
She smiles softly
then wide
as a tear escapes
Before the tear meets the smile
she blinks
and in that instant
she becomes
hundreds of butterflies

As they flutter upwards
they brush a strand of blonde hair
on the head of a sullen skinny frame
She lunges at me
screaming a strangled note
that echoes in my bones
but I stand up strong
and let her come
She makes only a step
before she collapses
sobbing
and between the gasps
I hear her saying
over and over
‘I’m sorry
I’m sorry
I’m sorry’

I put my arms around her
and I let her cry
Then I hold her shoulders
gently
and lean her back
so I can see her face
and say
I’m sorry’
and
‘Thank you’
A smile twitches
the edges of her mouth
as a blink turns her into smoke
twirling upwards

The ground shudders again
and they all seem to move at once
surrounding me
Some bring smiles
some tears
some nails or bear hugs
or light finger touches
and all I look warmly
into green eyes
and thank them

And each disappears
in their own way
to a sound that seems both
a collapsing
and an expanding
and I stand alone
for the first time
since I was born

And yet I am not alone
the space around me hums
and embraces me
and the green of their eyes
spreads out on the ground
as shoots
and blades of grass
beckon me
and I lie in their arms

‘Thank you’
I whisper to the wind
And when I close my eyes
I am the stars