down past the rooms where the men are eating and past the rooms with the shoes and the room with the shirts and says to the woman ironing in the ironing room that he has arrived and she says, They found the boy with the jacket made of pins and he nods and heads further back until he finds his mother polishing his father’s mask and there is a pile of masks set off to the side that she will polish, too, in her long day of polishing, and he takes off his mask and says, I am here, and she nods and shows him her palm where she wears her eyes and he says, I will tend to the ovens, and she lowers her fingers over her palm and adjusts the position of the mask in front of her. He traces the path her eyes make from his mask to the mask on the table and says, No thank you, I will take care of my own mask and then he retreats into the hall and continues past the rooms of knives and past the rooms of chairs and past the assembly hall where the old men without masks and the women gather together to help each other walk and then down into the basement where his ovens await and he can remove his mask and spend the day without its weight
That’s her biting her hand. That’s her down on the floor. She’s screaming or biting, down on the floor curled around a life vest, a old carpet, a flag draped over a child. It’s tucked into her elbow, a part of her. She comes to the window. She’s carrying a bundle of rags, a duffle bag of scarves, the blankets of the dead. When she speaks, there are no words, a noise like static. She is moving and talking and screaming all at the same time. She’s carrying a bundle of rags, a child, a life vest, old newspapers, a wind-up radio, a mask of feathers, her father’s teaspoons, a bottle of teeth, an ancient leather bridle, the wind, the birds, an unspeakable ancestral tongue, a history of broken bones, a scar below her eye, a scar on her chin, a scar down her right arm from the knife, a scar across her back, a pair of laceless shoes, a pail of hot coals, a sack of ears, a canteen of blood, a face seen best in thirds: here first, then here, now there. She is thusly divided. She is best one at a time. That’s what she says when she’s done screaming. No one can see all of her, she says, no one would want to. There is no way home, there is no new place, no way to begin, no hope in finding her now. Once she hits the window, once she gets outside, she’s gone, she’s out, she’s flown, she’s on the street: fast down to the bridge, fast down to the highway, fast right to the water, and once she’s in the water, you’ll never catch her. She’s past the water. She’s lost, she’s carrying herself, all her secret stashes, her swollen elbow, her swollen knees, the gimpy hip, the scars she won’t talk about, the scars she won’t reveal. She’s in the water down in the deepest well, down too far to swim up, down in the tunnels, out into the inky core, she’s found her vortex. She’s new. She’s next to the hot heart. She’s praying to the next open door. She’s never coming back; she’s never coming home. You think she wants any of this? What’s here for her to use in the blank field? What can we offer that she won’t toss away? What is left of her anyway? What is left as she’s running? What’s left as she’s gone? What’s left now that we don’t remember? What part of her is hoping we’ll follow? None, nothing, no one, never, no thank-you. She’s speeding into a fresh unlit space. She’s looking into the dark. She’s down too far to return. She’s down too far to see. She’s alone with her own aloneness. She’s down into the darkness now. She’s following the sound. She’s brought along her bundle of rags, a purse full of nails. She opens the door to announce her own arrival.