Sid Branca performing her poem "Play for Six Millennia" at Salonathon: Cylonathon, curated by Dav Yendler, March 2014.
A curtain opens into darkness.
The hum of a bedroom fan, the sound of distant car doors opening and closing, like the gills of the night.
Slowly, slowly, the light comes up, just enough, just enough, to see the shape of a body in a window frame.
The hand to the mouth, the arm across the stomach. Slowly, slowly.
The shape a body makes in waiting.
A bus goes by, the fan hitches. Our body moves across the window.
We can begin to see the bed. It is not large, but oh, it is an ocean.
The faintest light of early morning is pressing its hands against the curtains. It wants to peel back the horrors of the night.
Liquid is streaming down our body’s face, a process like breathing, like crossing a room for a glass of water, face calm.
A quiet glimmer of light on metal, and the flicker that licks up in the breaks.
A sweater is removed, a sweater is put on, as if our body is cold.
The hair pinned up and taken down. A fight, a fight. This is how it is done.
Our body continues to wait, for it cannot rest or sail this ship alone. The slow tilt and rust of time sidles up beside us.
The curtain never shuts: the lights rise up, the lights grow dim, the body departs, the body arrives. There will be no shutting until all is shut.
But moments, moments, in the thick honey stretch of time, a long silence is held and then broken, as little animals crawl in the mud and leave the mud and return to the mud to die, and rise up in the mud again, sharpening the bones of their ancestors with their beautiful small hands, as the metal of our body sinks slowly to the bottom of the ocean, underwater plants caressing our glass eyes.
And I think perhaps the next body I build myself will not be made of good steel, strong but not utterly safe from destruction, but instead this body will be all glass, thin and delicate and milky and streaked with blue and pink. So fragile that for fear of breaking no one will touch. I will employ a staff with soft hands and padded gloves, and no human hand will ever touch the surface, for the heat would send cracks splintering across the limbs, the sound sickening and strangely loud.
But perhaps if I were wiser, I would build myself a body out of dirt. You break a clump of it with your hands and you find yourself with more of the same. What difference would a trampling make. Then you could dig your fingers into me, feel the sun-warmed surface gently give way to darker, colder parts, teeming with vast and microscopic life. And when you leave me, and you will leave me, some part of me will go with you, tucked under your fingernails and nestling inside your lungs in quiet, pumping dust.
And this time, when everyone I care about falls victim, sooner or later, to time, this time when everyone I care about dies, I will fold you in my arms and we will pass through the always and ever passing of all time in an aching, slow disintegration into each other forever.