Everyone can sense, the final laughter
When you’re dining at a friend’s place.
It’s the one that means it’s time to pack up and leave.
Because after all, we must all walk home.

Before leaving I reach for a teacup,
To take a final sip before I get up,
I try to take off my gloves to feel the cup’s scald,
But they stop me. We must never take off our gloves.

I know where I live, but I don’t want to go just yet
I ask the others if any of them is going my way,
Most of them aren’t and they leave alone.
But one decides to come along with me.

Just before we leave the house, I ask her,
Where does she live? Why does she want to come with?
She smiles and says her home is with me.
I let her come with when she assures me it will always be.

As we step out, we are blinded. The sun shines directly.
There isn’t a single cloud to block it.
And against the backdrop of radiant blue,
The horizon has never looked more hopeful.

It’s autumn, so the leaves are rusty brown.
All raked up in piles to the sides of sidewalks,
A chubby, black chihuahua struts into them,
I would join her, but we must never lose our composure.

Tarred roads free of traffic – not a smoky car in sight,
Reflect the sun’s rays to white daisies growing next to algae,
It’s not too windy today. But the little breeze rustles the leaves so gently,
I can almost make out a sound of music melody.

I turn to my companion, as the breeze blows gently on her face,
I sure am glad you decided to stay.
I’m sure that I can share this beautiful day with you.
How lucky am I that I can call on you at any time.
She reaches out her hands and I wish to do so too, bare.
But we must never take off our gloves.

It kills me to not be able to have her palm gently rest on my own,
Especially when, all around us, I can see the evidence of passion abound.
Chirping birds scouring hundreds of miles, trying to make their homes stronger,
Gecko lizards, racing up and down, trying to seduce their mates.

Then, just up ahead, I see an elderly couple cross the street.
She tries to jaywalk and he holds her right arm to keep her back,
When green they cross and she scolds at him with a finger pointed out,
He grabs the finger, takes her hand, and kisses it. She blushes.

I turn to my lover and admit under my breath, I want that.
But how can I have that, if I cannot bare myself to the woman I love?
So, in a second, I take off my gloves to pick her a pretty, prickly flower,
But as I do, the sound of music stops.
The flowers begin an ominous synchronised whistling.

As the whistling pitch gets higher, neighbouring dogs turn manic,
Barks drown the whistling and a few rapid dogs stare through slits,
Foaming in the mouth, clearly wanting to tear my limbs with their teeth,
Lap up the puddles of blood that will gather from my corpse.

The chirping birds now begin to fly above me in a circle,
After the dogs are done with my carcass, perhaps they can use my bone fragments,
To make their homes stronger, more secure.
Perhaps they can use my fatty flesh to warm their eggs –
fodder for the next generation

In all of this, I admit, I forget to look for my lover,
When I open my eyes to search, she is no longer here.
I see her, in a distance, running as far away from me as possible.
I cry out for her, but she never returns. The barks and chirps forever drown me out.

I try to run after her, but then, I am surrounded by curious faces,
They stare at my exposed hand and murmur among themselves,
The angry mob, foaming in the mouth, is not pleased,
Who does he think he is? We must never take off our gloves!

As the mob begins to encroach, I look for an alibi,
I point to the elderly couple, also in the mob,
they are bare with each other, why are they exempt?
The man looks at me and chuckles. Nude gloves, he remarks.

No one wants to bear your bareness, hide it like everyone else.
Even to those you love, I ask. Should you not be free with them?
Especially to those you love, the mob replies, no one can bear it.
Who are you to think your bareness is better than ours?

I don’t. I just want to be understood. Is that not the point?
I realise the more we debate, the more time I have to plan an escape,
No two people can ever understand each other, and it is selfish to expect!
I just wanted to be truthful with her. That’s foolish. We must all live our truths alone.

Just as I’m beginning to buy into this, I try to put my gloves back on.
They stop me, we have already seen it, we never forget.
So, punish me and let me be! I protest.
The punishment is death.

The mob grabs me and hoists me above them.
They hold me at my limbs but are careful to only touch the garment.
This might be my escape.
I wriggle my right arm free and use my bare palms to touch someone.

He disappears.
I touch the one holding my other arm, he goes too.
Then my legs,
Now I land back-first to the ground.

I hold my bare hands up and the mob stays back,
Let me find my lover and walk home,
Then we’ll both leave you all alone and you’ll never hear from us.
The elderly man chuckles and points to the back of the mob.

My lover is among them. She joined later but there she is.
With a roll of barbed wire in her gloved hands,
Why would you do this? I thought we were walking home together.
She replies, we must all walk home alone.

Now I understand. I was not aware of the rules.
And even now that I know them, I do not wish to conform.
I tell the mob I will stay away, but if they come for me,
I will burden them with my bareness.
They agree to let me be.

As I watch them disband, I can’t help but realise, I am now alone.
The chirping birds still encircle me, but they are no friends,
They are just waiting to recycle my bones when the dogs are done,
Assuming they leave any fragments of my skeletal corpse usable.

As I walk home now, all bare and bold,
The once blue sky is now a pale grey, with thunder clouds looming.
The sun is still around but seems distant.
Like a disapproving parent after the death of a golden child.

The once clear tarred roads are now falling apart,
construction workers breaking them up.
The loud noise of machinery is almost as annoying as the smoke.
As I pass, they all stop and stare at the man who dared to be bare.
Then they hiss and laugh at the fool who is now all alone in this world.

One of them approaches me but I panic and pat him on the shoulder,
He disintegrates just as he was about to hand me a woollen pair of gloves,
For the cold nights, his fading voice echoes around.
I recognise that voice. Its familiar innocence echoed my own.

Murderer! Murderer!
As they are about to chase me, I raise my arms again.
I apologise but it does nothing.
A man is dead because I bore myself to him.

I run away from the carnage of my truth,
I reach my home and desperately try to get in.
I reach for my keys, but just as I am about to put them in,
They disappear. The house does too.

I am alarmed.
Now, even the woollen gloves I was just offered disintegrate,
Then I realise that there’s only one thing I can do to relieve my pain,
So, I touch myself.




Photo by Nick Shandra on Unsplash