Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Marsyas, After by Monica Youn

Marsyas, After

Dust loves me now, along with
leaflets, plastic bags, anything
unattached, anything looking for
somewhere to stop, something
to emblazon. Too painful
to brush them off, the day’s
adhesions, too much
a reënactment. I float in my tub
of blood-warm water; element
of indecision, if only
it could be my habitat,
if only the sawtoothed air
didn’t insist on its own
uninterrupted necessity.
I hate it, but, lacking skin, I’ve lost
my capacity for scorn: that
was my failing—not excess
of pride, but that stooping
to pick up their accoutrements,
as if emulation could engender
equality. I stain everything
I touch, it all stains me;
my raw surface is an unlidded eye,
each stimulus its own white-
hot knife, but why would I
submit to be resheathed?
To lessen pain? What used
to distinguish me is already
defeated, limp trophy
flag of conquest; now I could be
like them if I chose.
But the acidulated
rain imposes a least
common denominator
democracy, it scours away
the pigments they used
to humanize their marmoreal self-
regard, their eyes gone dull
as the calluses I would rather
suffer forever than become.

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