Involution
___________


Knock on the door.  He answers.
She steps in, hopeful... but already
feeling strangely.
She knows herself, knows
what kind of pattern she slips into
in situations such as this...
and she recognizes the signs

                                     already.  Now
                                     what has she done to elicit
                                     the puzzled look 
                                     he gives her?

...she realizes that a familiar
paralyzing pattern has begun.  Can't think.
Can't speak.  Can't do.  Her mind is erecting
a  huge  protective  isolating
barrier around her.  A box.

In which she is safe.  In which she is...

Once upon a time this box had a use.  That was
long ago, when she (for the first time)
realized what damage a human can do.
What damage, with huge soul-shredding fangs.
After the first gouge with shock and inward screams
she willed the box into being.  Inward.
Never outward.  Never.  Outward.

For a long while, the box made her survival possible.

But now...the box is too small.  It has become
a trap.  Ten thousand million words hurl themselves
against its walls in an effort to escape.  No.
They fall to the boxfloor, stunned.  Ten thousand
million actions are aborted.  The box
will not allow them to be born...

                                      The night continues.  They
                                      are walking, talking of
                                      nothing, really.


...she wants him to understand.  She wants him
to possess a vision capable of drilling through
the opaque walls of the thing that contains her...

See, she thinks.  See.  See.  See.  Please
see me inside of here.  I cannot reach out,
I do not yet have the strength to claw
my way out of this box.  You must
See.

But he does not see.  Of course...

                                      They sit.  He
                                      maintains a cautious distance.
                                      She is aware of this.


...because over the years she has
taught herself how to control her fear,
to all outward appearances.  Over the years
she has managed to paint illusive pictures
on the six sides of her box, and these
are what he sees.  Pleasing two dimensional
pictures.  Flat.

So
she wonders... does he think that I AM
this box?

I am not.  I am not.  I am
Not.

She begins to beat against the walls
of the box.  I am not this box.  I am not.
This box.  Not.

Not this box.
A crack.  A word escaping.
Another.  Another.  Another.  She is...

trying.  But she is failing.  Not failing to communicate
entirely, just failing to communicate anything
that he can understand.  He apprehends vaguely now
the existence of something within the box,
but is aware only of that thing's complete and utter

strangeness...

                                    She has crossed his line.
                                    In an attempt to be polite
                                    he tells her he's enjoyed
                                    the night, but has
                                    an early morning appointment
                                    tomorrow...


He wants no part of her strangeness.
It unsettles him.  What he had thought was her
was not her... what he had thought was her
was in reality only a container for something
which is to him completely... alien

He really must go now, he says.  he really
Must.  Must go.  Now.  She stands...


                                   And
                                   not speaking of much at all
                                   they walk along a wall
                                   of virtual silence...
                                   he on one side, she
                                   on the other.


Now, a door again.  Hers.
Stay in the box, he tells her.  With his every
movement and reaction, he tells her:
Stay in.

It's killing me, she doesn't tell him, although
she so wants to.  She wants to rip her
prison to shreds with a huge, huge dagger
So that she can breathe

Outside...again.  But she...

she only smiles, and turns from him.


                                  Confused, he retreats.  She
                                  refuses to hear the sound
                                  of him moving away

                                  hurriedly down the street.




_________________________
      l.gardner
   (posted Sept. 1994)