Out of the Caves

When the feelings and the thoughts began, I believed
I was alone.  I was certain no one else was like me.  They would not
Accept me.  I was sure.  They would
Call me weird,
Call me a freak.  They would think
I was sick, and disgusting.  They would
Reject me, and I knew their rejection too well already.
I was not normal.
I disconnected.  I set myself apart.
What boy can live that way?  Not me.  I needed
To connect, and to belong, but I knew I could not.
I found people that not only accepted me, but they liked who and
What I was.  They wanted to share it with me! I went into their
Hidden world.  The more time I spent there, the more people I found
To belong with.  The more time I spent there, the more it became
My world.
My home.  It was
Safe.
I could do anything there.  Someone always wanted to join in.
Everything was okay there.
I was okay there.
Who I was was okay there.  In the open, in the sun,
No one wanted or would
Want me.  They
Hated what I am.  They’re wrong.  What do they know?  Everything they think, all their
Judgement was wrong, and I was perfectly
Fine just the way I was!  Fuck them.  Fuck all of them.
I belonged here.  Online.  With people that
Didn’t hate me!
I could be anything.  The people that liked me said so.
They were right.  They must have been.  Why wouldn’t they be?
I’m supposed to like who I am.

There was so much more there than I thought.  This cave of wonders wasInfinite, and I can have anything I see.
Deeper.  Coaxed.  Dragged.  Pulled.  Lured.  Tempted.  Pushed.  Walked.  Jumped.  Dove.
Enveloped.

I smell something.  I’m alert.  Aware.  Why did I come so far in?!  I never meant this.

Run back.
Walk back.
Stand still.
Walk forward.
Run forward.

Stop.  Go back.

No.  They tell me this is who I am.  Where I belong.  I can leave but I can’t change.  I listen.  I stay.  I revel.

Or I don’t listen.  They drag me.  I struggle, then I help them!  Deeper.

Or I run back to where I can still see the light of day.  If I can keep it in view, I’m safe, right?  Right.  Right?

The sirens beckon.  I know it’s a trap.  I am too weak.  I go.

Or I escape!  But… where is this place?  What can it give me?  I feel wrong.  I’m not like the people here.  I don’t belong.  They throw stones, or they will.  No, not in the sun.  Ah the sun.  The warm.  I can stay.  I belong.  They don’t hate me.

I hear the sirens.  Faint, but strong.  They sing to me of the pleasures within their caverns.  I don’t have to stay, they lie.  I won’t get lost like before.  Like every other time.  Not this time.  No.  This time I’ll know the way out.  I’ll just go in a little way, for a little while.  The sirens tell me I’m right.  I know I’m wrong, but I believe them anyway.

One step.  Two.  A dozen.  My old games!  My old friends!  My old toys!

I see more and run toward it.  It is familiar.  It is comfortable.  I know how to be here.  Be this.

Wait, I should go!
You are one of them, I say to myself.  Is that me?
You cannot change.  You belong.  You want to!  They want you.  Don’t fight.

I don’t.

I walk, run, I dive into pools of now, and want.   So warm.  So comfortable.  So suddenly cold.  Deeper.  I see more springs bubbling.  Those.  They will stay warm.  They will always be warm.

Each one warmer.  More cathartic to enter.  But so soon each turns cold.  And after a time, none are warm like before.  Tepid.  Better than the cold, dank air, but no comfort, just less cold, less cloying.  I want to go.  I want the sun.  I look for it.  I may find it.  I may not.

Sometimes I find the sun.  Sometimes I give up and search for better pools.  Sometimes the perfect pool appears telling me it will give me more than the sun can.  It lies.  I know.  I share the lie.
The lie is easier.

By day in the sun, by night in the cave.
I can’t tell you I live in the cave.  You think I am like you.
You think I am clean.  Good.  Warm.
I am not.
How could I be?
I sleep in the filth.  Among rats and insects.
If you knew, you would cut this tumour from you.
You, who absorbs the sun’ warmth, lets me suck it from you.
You are all that lets me ever see the sun.  Without you I could not, and would be doomed
To eternal darkness in the caves.
And I pretend you do not know.  Or even believe you don’t.

If I show you what I am
Where I live
You will know how I soil you.  Will you be destroyed?
Will you become like me?
Glorious beacon.  Warmth.  Light.
Clean air.
Fresh water.
Would I turn you into embers
Barely burning?
Dim.  Smoke.  Ash.
Mud.
I must not.
But I must cling to you or I am forever lost.
I have to leave, and live above.
With you.
In the light that lights you.
Let it light us both.
I have to cling.  Scrape.
Until I find the strength to leave these caves,
And never surrender to their lures and snares.
I must become what you think, or hope, or wish me to be.
I must do this without showing you what I am.  So you can believe
I always was.
So you never know
What filth and shame I attached to your person.
I want to save you from knowing.
I do.
Truly.
But also save myself the pain
Of seeing you know.
And the pain of you looking on me
And seeing my true self.

I tried to live my wish.
And that labour took more of me each day.
Each day, I had less
Energy.
Soon I had only enough for the
Illusion.
I could not climb out of the caves to spend those
Precious hours
With you.
At first, perhaps, unknowing,
You descended.
And then you knew, but I spent my full self
Pretending, and had nothing left with which
To see.
Your eyes opened, and began to see me.
Little by little.  Lot by lot.
In a frenzy I tried to prop up
My crumbling lie, In which I lived.
A pitiful shelter, but I feared having none.  When
It fell all around me, I was cold. Scared.  Naked and alone.
I was paralyzed.
I stood.
I shivered.
I wailed.

Slowly, slowly as
I stood on the cusp of our two worlds
I felt
The sun brush me.
Now I had no falseness
To patch and cobble back together each day.
Tired as I was, I had just enough strength to ignore the sirens.
To stand still.
To let the sun warm me.  To let clean air fill my lungs.
I became strong enough to venture out for clean water.
I felt grass beneath my toes.  It was beautiful.
But it was slow.
I knew I needed the sun.
To me, for so long, you and the sun were the same.  I wanted more sun.
Now.
I wanted to drive into this world as I could those wretched caves.
I wanted the full and good warmth of the sun
To give me
The instant warmth of the pools.
I lived below for so long that
I forgot the sun did not work that way.
The sun fills you
Slowly, but it lasts.
To me, you had become the sun.
And so I thought to be near you
Would fill me.  Quickly.
And so I came after you.  Trying to cling, as always.
I did not know that I was still a wraith.

Soon you saw that I was. You knew
A wraith would only return to the darkness and
It might drag you with it.
Wisely, you pulled away.  You walked farther from the cave.
Ran.  I chased.
So long as I chased.  So long as I pursued you, only a wraith could I be.
You fled out in the sun and that is
Where I followed.  And so
I spent my days In the sun,
And my nights.
Its slow burn healed and filled me, but I was
Only part healed.  I had
More strength, but still was
Compelled to bring you to me, and
Steal from you the healing light.
I was becoming a man, but
I was not one yet.  I was a half-breed, and so quickly could I return.
So easily I could suck your beauty from you, and drag you into darkness,
And we would both be drained of light and warm with nowhere to find more.  Together
We would huddle in the caves,
Wraiths, shadows with
No way to escape.

So you ran.  Far, and fast, and free.  It was
The only choice.
You have crossed a wide, fast river, and
We stand on opposite banks.
I see you.
Strong and shining.
You sparkle as the rushing water.
It has washed the stench of the caves,
Of me
From you.
I tried to ford the river
But you braced to run, and I stopped.
I look up the banks for a crossing, but
I saw none.  If I search for one
I know you will be gone, and
I will never find you.
Even if I am strong enough to swim, I am
Too dirty to be cleansed in a crossing.
You know this, too.  And I am not
Filled and strengthened by the sun.
I would seek my warmth from you, seek
To steal it.
I stand here on the bank.  I am no longer
Running after you all day long because
I cannot run on water.
I must stay here, on this bank.  I will make camp.
I will rest, and I will soak in my healing not from you, but from
The sun that can now renew us both.  Each day
I will bathe in the pristine waters and
The current will carry away another
Layer of my wickedness.
I will drink from the river and clean myself inside.
I will look across to the other bank, and
I pray I may still see you
Glittering in the sun
Every day until
The morning that the river has made e clean enough, and
The sun has made me strong enough that I can
Swim to you.

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