My Living Presence - Poem by Patti Masterman
My living presence scares the hell out of me;
It's big hulking shadow, perhaps containing bits of soul
Of the ghosts of score-settling ancestors;
Burly axe-wielding settlers, chasing down dinner in the woods
Breathing their rancid, gimlet sweat, out of my every pore,
Harboring god knows what bacterium, what viral inheritance.
And then there's the endless hair, like some crawling infestation
Of pigment, on stalking legs: whether thick and wiry or thin and straight.
It's all too real and up close for me, this sweating,
Syncopated body, with it's ragged breathing,
It's panting upon exertion, like a sofa trying to push itself uphill
The mechanical creaking springs, constantly betraying my whereabouts.
Why does it feel so much larger than life, this animal by product
Of a molecular juggernaut, this blitzkrieg of blood pressure and sinus rhythms,
This myopic, prevaricated lumbering strain, of some ancient tree shrew,
That had nothing better to do than propagate itself endlessly,
Beyond any necessity; then inhale some random virus
From the soon to be extinct fauna, while trying to stay out of range
Of the big monsters, always on the prowl, for a warm, bleeding dinner.
I'm still too close myself, to being prey,
Even while feeling myself this carnivorous, urine exhaling,
Over-teething monster, pawing at chicken bones and pork ribs,
Dreaming of present day blood feasts we are still allowed:
Rare filet mignons, prime rib, caviar, sushi.
Just the excretions of this body's lifetime could fill up a small inland sea.
I'm tied to this thing forever; when it ceases, I cease too;
Bitter end of that story, of the hated Siamese twin
Which seems to have swallowed me whole, back in utero
Holding all my consciousness, my senses, locked inside it;
It's cadaverous whale's belly, but if I even tried to scream,
At the thought of being chained, day and night, to this oozing leviathan,
It's only my own ears that suffer; I would have to break out of my own skin
Just to finally escape; to inflict the very torments this captor has taught me
To fear and avoid at all costs; as it pays me back in kind, tit for tat
For every insult ever inflicted; it never forgets a thing
It's keeping it's tab even now, for tallying up later.
When I have grown old, and no longer useful to life,
It's humorlessly intimidating priestess, will note without smile,
That I am now incapable of reproduction;
Unless you should count the mass overturning of cells
In the runaway cancerous proclivity, of the aged.
And I can feel it watching me alertly now, with those future dead-body eyes;
Just hope I can finally escape it, before things start to hatch out
Down in the dark, in that deep hole, where they always plant us,
Like some rancorous seed, they are trying to sprout, to no more purpose
Than this same malfeasance, of an upright, self-replicating monstrosity.
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