Opera Philadelphia

We Need to Talk

By Anne Carson

I tame you.
(No you don’t).
You were nude.
You were intangible.
You were unconvincing.
You were vague.
You claimed you were born from angels.
You stank of the horrors of war.
You blazed with ruthless pride.
Your full, loose mouth blazed.
You had a fruit bloom.
You bloomed like a cannibal.
Ready to devour or be devoured.
Or both.
You had your portrait painted as a butcher’s block.
Yet you were not a still life.
You were meat but recently living.
You had come with your own legs.
I replaced your legs.
I replaced your crotch.
Crotches.
All of them.
You were ghosting around as if a mystery of Hymen.
I undressed you.
That is the only difference.
Beyond that there was little development between us.
I used crutches, stilts, evisceration, plaster casts.
I rooted your shoes.
I tilted the stage, I knocked it apart, I combined you with other genders.
I rolled up my sleeves.
I showed you no tenderness, we might as well have been sexual!
Or medical!
Or archaeologists!
I required you to clean up whatever mess we made.
I used the mess again next day.
I slowed your steps, inhibited your breathing, assaulted you with film score
music (waltz).
I littered the stage with open graves and you fell into them – hilarious!
I laughed at you!
I made you walk on your hands without oxygen or effective friends.
I made you build the floor you walked on.
I blew your clothes off.
I mangled your Orpheus scene.
I threw someone else’s thighs at you.
I doused you with the waters of Lethe.
I flattened you into a lozenge and stuffed you in my pocket.
I shot all the arrows of King Darius’ Persian army at you (fast!)
then made you pick them all up (slow).
I tossed your skeleton off its slab (it smashed).
I played with your skull.
I got you chasing a nostalgic scrap of paper then turned out the lights
and told the audience to go home.
Beyond that nothing was resolved between us.
The legs were of various heights.
You invited me into your golden age, I made you a stranger,
a loser, an arriviste, an undocumented alien, an unclaimed hostage,
a bad birthday gift.
I had you eaten into by the human.
I broke your energy,
I invented your gravity,
I pulled you out through your own peep-hole.
(No you didn’t).
I tame you.
(No you don’t).

Poem reprinted by permission of Anne Carson and Aragi Inc. All rights reserved.

Watch

MapOpera Philadelphia Channel

Available on-demand with a Season Pass or Digital Commissions Bundle until May 31, 2021, or with a seven-day rental.

Running time: 10 minutes

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