I don’t like it when I have nowhere to go. I feel caged in. I can’t breathe. I can’t get rid of the wiring in my stomach. My dance teacher used to say, breathe, if you don’t breathe, you die. I’m reminded of other lives. When emotions bottle up, I can’t speak. I see myself in a cell, pushing against the walls, locked in plasma. I can’t get out. I scream in silence.
They took my voice away when they came for me in the amphitheater. It was filled with students. I never wavered. I saw them at the top of the stairs, an army of shadows. They chilled the warriors, anonymous faces hiding behind their uniforms. They had orders. All went dark.
I kept going, not interrupting the session, or was I pretending to be calm. Then all I smelled was their boots. They grabbed me with such strength I thought I’d disappear. I didn’t walk with them. I was dragged all the way, gasping for air.
Black out. I’m thrown into a cell, beaten down. I see him, tall and standing by the door, his belt undone. I’m struggling to lean against the wall. I love you, he says, holding the whip, the odd lips a hint of a smile, his face whiter than bone. He looks familiar. I’m ready to believe him. His eyes are gone. They grind through me, ice blue. My body collapses to the ground. [End Page 120]
A citizen of the United States, France, and Spain, Hélène Cardona’s most recent books include Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves (both from Salmon Poetry), and the translations Beyond Elsewhere (winner of a Hemingway Grant), Ceque nous portons (Dorianne Laux), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb.