My Initial Response to “This Is How We Die”

Today I gaze at anticipatory faces. Chasing A-stars, they wait.

And wait.

And wait.

I struggle to face the mundane day lazily unwinding in front of me. The bullet train fever dream of last night’s memory rips at my periphery but I have piles of goddamn exam papers to hand out and count down the time for those little eyes lined up in front of me.

“You have seventy-five minutes to complete this exam paper. Raise your hand if you need anything. You must not speak.”

You must not speak.                         You must not speak.                     You must not speak.

The silence of rustling papers and scratching pens and scraping chairs deafens me. Fatigue caresses my face already propped up by tapping, restless fingers frustrated with marking the correctness of the explanation of hot seating and how its used in my year 9 Drama class.

The middle distance pops up, slides in.

I ruminate.

Never had I thought I’d find Shakespeare reincarnate, but he’s there, under the rioting hair of a Canadian paranoiac, raging at the space he faces of pairs of eyes lined up. He bombards, he bashes, he races. The world we know but ignore is exposed. The guts hang out, the greed, the hate. The racism, the fascism, all those “isms” and “ists” that stain and distend, that we block out to keep out tiny, insignificant spheres of existence perfect and quiet and numb.

This bard makes us see.

He stops.                                                                                                           He whispers.

Just him at a desk with a script and a glass and some lights.

And us. We face him. We hear him. We drink in his sounds, his words, his allegorical tales of love found and lost and open road desert adventure. This is confessional. This is a soul ripped open and we are going to ingest it, whether we want that screaming, raw mass inside us or not. Not through our mouths, but with our ears we catch his lightning, eventually blinded by words and light and music.

We are overcome.

We are left.

We are the catalysts of our own change.


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