Poetry

Muscle Memory

Time is ticking calmly as I tidy,
tock still chasing tick. I think about it
only for a heartbeat; barely turning
toward the door, I wait. My final client
for the day knocks gently. Sorry, I was
stuck, he says, still finishing some things late.
Other niceties observed. It’s hot, yes;
still, I notice now a chill comes over
me capriciously. Relax and stretch now.
Any special injuries or tightness?
Just a little. Mostly in my shoulders.
He is middle 40s, maybe, calm with
something fierce concealed within his quiet
nonchalance, his muscles like a rusty
iron cage, awaiting restoration.

Twenty minutes pass and still his breathing
breaks erratically. His body shows some
signs of TOS. I take his arm and
stretch it fully, feeling lines of tension.
I have never felt such strained resistance;
May be difficult, I say. No matter.
Do whatever you must do, he murmurs.
You’re the therapist; I trust your judgment.
Thumb now pressed against the trigger point for
myofascial release, and then I–
slip. My thumbnails scratch my error on him.
But instead of pain he emanates a
deep, unworldly breath. I run my
fingers furtively against the laceration,
softly stroke the scrawl again to smooth it
over; then the slight incision opens
like a window to a vacuum, swallows me:

I surrender wholly. Through his open
wound I merge into the memories of
muscles at the moment of his snapping,
then his lashing: calm determination
rising through the spine toward his digits,
calculating cost of life and limbs, then
how to clean up, where to hide the body
parts dissevered, and still make his fifteen
after five appointment, calm and well-dressed.

Now my hands are his hands: they remember
into me. I feel the past, still rotting
under weeping willow, under floorboard
and I shudder. Wrists and arms, the deltoids,
taut trapezius recoil with every blow;
bones are cracking. Spots of blood, first slowly,
like a sprinkle, then an autumn rainfall
steady, covering my hands as they lurch
and repeat–how many times?–with growing
strength and sinewy determination
clawing, rending, flaying flesh alive–no:
I remove my hands–or try, but cannot.
I absorb all visions and I freeze.
He does not move. Instead, a smile forms
from the corners of his lips. Do not stop
now. When there is so much more to see yet,
then why not look, if you please, madam?
Cyrano–you’ve read it, laughing brusquely.

Just above his clavicle, my shaking
hand could separate him from his breath. A
pair of nails into his cleido-mastoid,
or another Hichu point. But I am
sworn to do no harm, not even for the
world he has corrupted. I am torn as
I withdraw, withhold my horror, silent.
I imagine you’re a bit unsettled.
No, I’m not inclined to cuff you firmly;
no ungentlemanly conduct. Unlike
Cyrano I will not take a saber
and impale you. It’s your move now. Haven’t
you desired to share connection with your
clients? And besides, we both have twenty
minutes in our session still remaining.
What will you decide? His laughter, wicked,
forces me to final resolution.

Midnight now. Looking out the window,
waiting for my tea to cool down. Humans
and their arrogance amuse me. Always
thinking nothing ever happens, always
thinking knowledge has no consequences.
It will not hurt tomorrow morning.
Beneath the willow, wondering how,
she will waken merged with my old flesh;
and so the violence will continue on
in her new host, inside her animus.
Probably she’ll scream at first. But soon,
she’ll discover joys in evil and brutality
as she lives on in her bloodless victims;
her hands will serve their master well.
While she sleeps tonight, unmindful, I have
work to do. I must get used to these hands.
Tea time now. Tomorrow I have clients
in the morning. I’ll check her calendar.
[media-credit name=”Jon Haynes” align=”alignnone” width=”638″][/media-credit]

Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net