Beneath the Cellar Stair

Each name spelled out
safely, slowly with italics read
in a deeper voice. I’ve known to be
troubled when others speak of me

in the third person. In my presence. I’ve lost
my humanity, ability to reason, the color
in my skin. I’m a slack dummy, stuffing
that’s begun to seep out. And when those who would speak

of me as if
I’ve expired
are now themselves
dead, names

no longer can be pinned
to recognizable sounds. Boldface
gestures go unnoticed. Another crate
of other people’s memories

I must guard with my life.

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