[35] Self-Portrait in the Corridor with the Wardens, Peter Leight

 

They shade their eyes because of the light that’s trying to get to me, they’d like to keep it for themselves, even though they don’t have any place to put it.  It doesn’t matter if I’m in front of them or they’re in front of me, they don’t even care which side they’re on—sometimes they turn from one side to the other, walking around like flight attendants without beverages or packaged snacks, it’s just another form of spying.  When they turn around I’m not even sure what they’re disposing of.  They often make notes in the spiral notebooks they keep in their breast pockets, laundry lists or  grocery lists, or a list of things they need to bring home—they don’t want to forget about their homes.  I’m not even sure if they remember the names of their children.  They tell me to come in when I’m not even outside, and put it down when I’m not holding onto anything, not behind my back or taking anything by mouth, they actually believe we have an understanding as long as I’m not arguing with them or asking them to leave me alone, I mean there are people you can’t even talk to, even to disagree with.  They never blame themselves. Shading their eyes, cupping their hands as if the light is a yellow river they’re gathering to take home to the children, they don’t want to forget about their children, who need to swim in the river of yellow light.  When I stand against the wall I’m practically blending in, pressing my arms against my sides, holding my hands against my body, as if it’s something I don’t even need to discuss.  Flattening myself until there aren’t any lumps, nothing’s sticking out in front of me or behind me.  From the side I don’t even have a silhouette—I don’t think it’s suspicious, if it’s not suspicious is it even interesting?  Smoothing my body like a rule that doesn’t apply when you don’t want it to, not even bargaining, putting my hands together and moving them apart in a slicing or scissoring motion as if I’m doing the breaststroke, if I keep moving my arms I’m going to swim to another shore.

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