The Poetry Bar

The delicate disappearance of Debbie

Each day, Debbie rubbed out a few more of her colours.

Each day, as people tore her off a strip,
took her down a peg
and gradually hacked away at her fragile foundations,
a little more of her shading began to unravel,
and generally discombobulate.

Debbie never said the right thing,
or did what other people thought she was supposed to do.

They said so on all the forms
and in all the classrooms
and the kitchens
and shops
and offices
and garages –

and all the proper places
where all the proper colours were made
and then tested
to make sure they stood up to argument.

Debbie never seemed to achieve anything
or win anything
(besides scoldings
and sneers
and the superior smirks
of people who loved having soft targets
to laugh at).

The only thing she ever seemed to do
was slink away
and disappear.

What nobody noticed,
of course,
was just how completely she was vanishing.

They couldn’t see the soft clockwork eroding inside her.

They couldn’t see the unwanted colours dissolving in her tears.

Without even realizing it,
Debbie was becoming quietly brilliant at the strange art of self-erasure.

With slow,
deliberate strokes,
she was
rubbing away the very essence of her soul –
until only a few stubborn splodges of core Debbie remained,
floating in a kind of aimless abandon
like shells caught in the tide.

With this splodginess, however, came a startling realisation –
unlike anything she could previously have imagined in the sad world that lived behind Debbie’s eyes,
where everything felt lost and unwanted until it had been given a name…
but somehow, nothing seemed right
until all the names and labels had peeled away.

As the shells and splodges churned around her, Debbie began to realise she wasn’t erasing anymore.

She was painting herself…
weaving herself home through the currents…
charting her way to new shores, where her shaky voice might at last have stories to tell.

If only she could find the words.

If only she hadn’t spent so long between the lines on which other people wrote their meanings.

If only there was a voice for things unspoken.

There were still so many subtle terrors in this place of churn and brushstrokes.

But at least now,
when people meet Debbie,
even if they don’t quite understand her colours,
even if they don’t believe the shell patterns in her eyes,
they’re never left in any doubt
that there are masterpieces waiting, somewhere out beyond her shoreline.

I’m John (sometimes Woodsy, kind of a stage name which followed me to my blog).
I scribble poems and stories
and pieces like this, which can’t quite make up their mind
(usually depending on who’s reading them).


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