Philip Vassallo
 
 

SELF-PORTRAIT
COMPOSED ON AN UNINSPIRED NIGHT




Seventeen thousand days have passed.

And what else is there to know?
The people I've seen,
their shadows in abandoned factories
that worked their fathers,
their names announced in churches long since emptied
by the priest's promise of self-redemption,
their laughter echoing in schoolyards
now turned to fleamarkets where no one buys.

And still what else is there to know?
The history of a single sidewalk slab
smoothed by the endless wave of goulashes
worn by schoolgirls passing in the rain
on their way toward motherhood.
Even they are politicians
the way they innocuously pound the pavement.

And yet what else is there to know?
The art exhibits, the cinema retrospectives,
the string quartet recitals, the staged readings,
the blinding footlights, the crushed velvet curtain,
the dusty, squeaky parquet floor,
the asthmatics gasping during intermission
and everyone in the audience is a critic.

And so what else is there to know?
The moments we stop in our tracks for reasons unknown,
the reasons we give to bond with those we survive,
the kiss we share with strangers lying beside us
before the nightly death that sleep brings.

Who am I is only a rhetorical question.
 

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