Eleanor Hannan and Elizabeth Dancoes's 1001 Funny Things you can do with a Skirt
Stories and art on the ancient skirt gesture of Anasyrma

Suitcase Scene 5: What if?

Suitcase Scene 5: What if?

Suitcase Scene 5: What if?


No one wants to be that person
zipped into a suitcase
cursing their double-jointed limbs
and their willingness to go in any old direction.

Not saying I couldn’t read the signs:
This way love, that fear, here the road to rage.
But the ability to move backwards and forwards
with equal ease
often leads to confusion
that lands you at the wrong destination.

When I was ten my best friend, Izzy, drove their bike off the road and into a field of tall grass. They were giggling, gleeful. I was glum, refused to follow; fields left me sneezing and watery-eyed. I called and called, begged them to come back. But Izzy did not and so I left. I’d had enough and left in a huff. I left and never held Izzy’s hand again.

Why did I let them go?

No one wants to be that person
the one who leaves strapped into their suitcase
the hope that might otherwise have been theirs
slipping through the zipper’s teeth and gone for good.
It is precisely because I glimpse in mirrored shards
eyes so desperate for safety
I can no longer recognize the person I’ve become,
that I am blind to signs that point toward trouble.

What is spoken with the eye tends to weigh in on the side of denial.

I realize it does not reflect well on me
that I know people who would pack a person into a suitcase
and enjoy it
and that I find this sort of individual compelling
and almost impossible to avoid.
Also, I seem unable to resist testing their compulsion to devour.
Even if I could turn my back, would I want to?
I wonder.

When I was twenty a friend I admired and loved, Chai, intervened in a knife attack. I cried out, tried to stop them, but they were that kind of hero who acts without thinking and winds up dead.

Why did I let go of them?

No one wants to be that person.
The one who stops and thinks,
who lets go and is left behind helpless
holding the hero as their life counts down.
But very few want the alternative –
the ‘act without thinking’ part apparently key.
And so, yes, I have too often kissed the blade
- that great attitude adjuster –
trying to fit into the fresco of a future
that would fade softly into me.

Should I do better?

I have a wobble in my wit.
Celestial fingers wag:
You know not what you think you know
the thoughts untrue you thought so new.

My mother let go of my hand when I was three. She let go of my hand, and then she let go of me. “Tragedy just follows some people around,” is a statement familiar to anyone for whom it is true.

Well, I’m still trying for an audience with Fate.

Unzipping a suitcase that you’re in is a tricksy affair.
Questions get snagged, tearing at the seams.
What if, what if, what if…
I want to be on the other side of a death wish.

I’ve heard that lessons only lessen a life -
is there truth in that lie? Or a lie in that truth?

No one wants to be that person
folded like an ill-used puppet and forgotten.
No one wants to be milked for who they never were.
No one wants to give up becoming something new.

That’s what I tell myself.

I do not want to make light.
I know there are many who are boxed and never make it through the zipper’s teeth alive.
I know there are many alive, inflamed with grief, pegged in and stuck.
I know
too many.

At 4 AM, with my emergency backpack
- it is not impossible to imagine these moments coming –
I bless my double-jointed limbs
and their willingness to go in any old direction
and take a taxi to the airport
and get on the plane to anywhere.

I am thirty and Gate 21 is a numinous threshold
leading, perhaps, to untapped potential.
Who knows, at the end of the journey this time
might be the unexpected
radiant and sublime.

-Elizabeth Dancoes