The First Survival

The First Survival

There’s no musical residue
that accompanies the memory—
it’s more like
deer-in-the-headlights silence—
just the thirty-minute play
beginning to end
and in between
I was in the spotlight
on autopilot,
five years old.
I only had one line—
and I delivered it like a gift
I didn’t want to give away,
wrapped in stiff monotone
without emotion,
the light
still blinding my hazel eyes.
I wasn’t sure if  
I had said everything
I was supposed to say
and to this day
I can see myself:
bare rigid knees like knots
bulging just below the hem
of my green velvet skirt,
holiday pageantry
glittering in my periphery.
A friend who did not feel
a similar trauma
linked to the performance
took my hot wet hand,
led me to the next act, let go,
and from there I was a statue
seeing through the bokeh of tears,
all-at-once ashamed
that I paid no attention
during the rehearsals—
and for the first time in my life
I accomplished a failure
that would teach me
how much humiliation 
it would be possible to survive.


Published by demarisgaunt

I currently live in Greenwood, Indiana. I love to listen to music, books on CD, podcasts or NPR as I work in my studio.  My favorite artists are Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper. I love poetry, but only the good stuff that isn’t so abstract I can’t understand it. Abstraction better lends itself to visual art, I think. Stephen Dunn is my favorite poet. He’s said just about anything that can be said about the inner workings of the heart and mind. My favorite novel is Atonement by Ian McEwan. My all time favorite band is The Cure. I love science, and anything that relates to how the mind works. I don’t believe in the supernatural. If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Richard Dawkins or Steven Pinker. If you don’t buy my art or read my poetry, buy one of their books. It will enrich if not change your life.  My favorite things to do are hiking, kayaking and camping. My favorite food is so common, I’ll keep you in suspense (It starts with a P). I prefer chocolate to vanilla. Green is my favorite color. I have an aversion to planning or scheduling of any kind, and I live for spontaneous adventures! Telephone conversations make me anxious, and I avoid them at almost all cost. I had a happy childhood. I’m having a pretty fantastic adulthood. I have every intention of seeing my 100th birthday, after which I will happily relinquish my guts to the future of medicine. Cheers! ~DeMaris

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