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Patricia Smith – Ⅱ

Character Study 




As soon as I scripted a line that blessed him

with a functioning heart, he ambled naked

out of my novel, squeezed his squirming head through

the space in a double-spaced line. Then he gaped

at me, eyes wounded by my indecision.

He shoved at a weakened verb and ripped the prose

wide open, bled twisted smell on the keys, laughed

maniacally at the optimistic

progression of page numbers. His searching mouth,

which had been written as both empty howl and

open door slammed shut, was crammed with misplaced teeth.

He was nude and ashy, swathed in stiff denim,

his voice gravel, then rootless and defiant,

his eyes pulsed gray, bottomless black, flat green

with flecks of spittle, his height wavered, his flat

tattooed gut pouted, then didn’t. He was scarred

by every change I had made, every strike-through,

cut/paste, backspace, delete, all of the unleased

betrayal that roars through prose. I had built him

from a knowing of adjectives, then piled on

detail and declaration, and now he is

overdone, dragging all that weight and wheezing

when he breathes. The boy patiently loads pockets

with stones, bottle caps and jagged shards of glass,

waiting for the moment when the skin of my

neck is exposed. Only 11, he scans

me with man eyes and says it, claiming my nights,

advancing the plot in a way that we both

know can’t be undone. He says: Give me a name.