I, Too, Fear

I, Too, Fear

By Heidi Campbell

I go in the direction I’m told.

I try, in mere minutes,

To harness a lifetime of unbothered wandering.

I go the wrong way once; 

the eyes above the mask 

tell me 

I’ve erred.

But did they tell me? 

Or is that the delusion of a plagued mind? 

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

Eyes meet.

Eyes avert.

Eyes, once so seemingly suggestive,

now fail me with their distance and fear.

“It was never the eyes,” I whisper to myself. 

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

Does the elderly man know that I’m smiling at him?

Does the young, frazzled mother see compassion in my eyes?

I grasp reality:

my eyes cannot speak.

They are helpless without their supportive sisters:

the lips.

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

I touch something without thinking.

I wonder, “Do I dare put this back?”

I, too, fear.

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

“How long can I linger?” I wonder, 

looking at the fine print.

Eyes hustle me from behind.

I feel them,

imploring me to proceed.

I look back.

What do those eyes say without lips sharing the tidings?

Are they happy eyes? Angry eyes?

Flushed skin betrays my unease.

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

Craving expression, I realize

the new exchanges inspire insecurities.

Eyes stare at eyes.

Emptiness replaces community.

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

“I want the lips back,” I murmur.

They are the trumpets announcing kings.

They are security,

community,

and kinship.

They require no interpretation.

 

I go in the direction I’m told.

I retreat to my world,  remove my mask.

With tired eyes, I sleep,

Haunted by empty eyes.

 

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