His voice had two identities.
Two worlds, stuck.
The vocal chords, gnawing creatures, vibrating upwards.
Hammering against wet walls.
One was used for the arts.
The other, the one I had to listen to, guttural,
Hollered and yawped like an animal,
Raging against its upcoming slaughter.
I wished to enter the threatics of the first voice,
Its world that excluded me so violently, purposefully.
He didn’t make room for me,
Maybe as a silent spectator, not acknowledging my own voice,
Or what I had to say on my behalf.
There could only be him, his talent,
The stage belonged to him, the spotlight, that world.
I’m not supposed to follow, to investigate,
Who he represents or plays in those other forums, unfamiliar.
He ceased to be the man I had known since my birth,
And became radiant, funny, an act studied well, groomed and maintained.
I understood very quickly that the persona I saw portrayed was a fictional one,
Non-existent, not him, surreal, an ideal, an other I never encountered.
I was close to the unhinged soloist, raised by him, the infuriated martyr,
The destructive voice deracinating all the outside glamour and sour pretence,
This image tasted unacceptable to me, wrong, unbelievable.
Who is this man who is applauded and raises his hands against me?
Don’t tell me artists have to suffer, we all do, and he made me.
Whenever the light hits his face, mine is engulfed in obscurity.
He revealed his decomposition to me.
I study the deification of this man,
But make no mistake, it’s not mine.
I went home with him, I know what lies beneath.
It’s not a smile, it’s a frown,
It’s not a caress, it’s a threat.
The only intent: in the flagellation of us, the bad conscience, the guilt.
I must have learned from the best, they claimed.
I wish they would shut their mouths, their ignorance offends me.
In fact, I did, I learned how to scream like a rabid barbarian,
How to throw pans, how to explode, how to use my teeth in revolt,
But never when it mattered, never against the right people,
Never in my protection, no, against the ones I loved the most.
You might think we’re very similar, no, not anymore, because
As you stayed behind the curtain, I stepped in front of it.
“Étude” by Elizabeth Nourse (1859-1938)