Skin Off My Nose


Nobody knows where I’ve been, how far I’ve gone.   My mind stretches across invisible boundaries, wiggling through impenetrable walls.  The miles that preceded, go on for lifetimes, a small, infinite space.  I crawl on my belly through a long, dark tunnel, shimmering lights, years of agonizing pain, freezing cold, step through.


It’s true, the world is not where I left it.  “You’re not here, but neither am I!” I shout angrily, the snow piled high.


Do Not Cross This Line, the sign on the fencepost reads.  Hook one leg over the barbed wire fence, then the other. 


Peeled the skin away from my eyes and nose.  If there’s something here to fill my well, then draw it up so I can drink it.  If there’s something here to give hope, tell me, before I run out of skin.


Talking in circles, a madness born from too many nights with the lid too tight.  The ceiling is my sky, the tile, my earth.  Air, manufactured, top of the line.  How far did you go beyond the light?  Why are you trembling?


Miles to go before I sleep…


The old white-haired Roberto and me, trudging through the snow, a postcard day.  “Roberto, the miles, they ain’t so bad with a shot of whiskey.  Here, peel some more skin off my nose.”


Roberto, that wise old dog, he just laughs. 




© Charles Mariano