Our Portrait

Fear snaps us in its smiling jaws but only when we allow it to be so. This is our portrait, the one we hide in the attic of our souls. But is it a portrait, or a mirror? A mirror, or a window?

In some far corner of you
A portrait depicts dread
The eyes will always follow
Whether you're alone or among friends
Monochrome lives pass like molasses
Then crystallize like amber
And eventually dissipate like smoke

The universe breathes in
Expelling the substance of you
Still that portrait hangs
Its visage changing with time
Childhood fear, summer's end
Intangible monsters in closets
Become monsters dressed in
Uniforms, street clothes, Sunday best
Concerns about pretend games
Become house fires, shootings
Tumors in troubled hearts

Breathe, just breathe
Do what you were meant to do
Say what you need to say
Just live

Yet always, you find yourself returning
To that same hateful picture
It has changed and grown with you
But the tide of uncertainty
The vicious undercurrent
Remains the same

Cold stethoscopes, pocket knives
Against your soft throat
Biting dogs, missing cogs
Machines that don't stop
Guns that misfire
Imperfection reigns

We need to move on
But still we dwell
In that blank space
Where our innocence used to be

We straighten the portrait
Clean the dust away
And stare

Put it back where all can see
Or hide it in the attic
It makes no difference
Still the eyes watch
Imploring for an answer
Hating what you've become

Only when you find the strength
To stare back and understand
That far corner of you
Will you be free
From the frame

The End

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