Matthew Gilbert “[We] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.” -Salvador Dali, on his brother I was making the masks for your exorcism. Working on your face in hand-cut leather. Are you sure you want to get rid of me? They performed speech therapy on my sleep. You were bruised and feted like a virgin. You sat in bed plucking two strings of a guitar with your inside voice. Remember when you were five? And Mom took you to the grave and said you were my reincarnation? The hole puckered at the taste of the needle. I spoke in the past tense as if we were dead. They moved so you would stop talking to woodpiles. You don’t answer me anymore. I’ve lost weight to make room for God inside of me, eating only ash and the light from the tip. The cigarette butts sound like crickets when I chew them. I am deliberately dehydrating myself to reach suspended animation. It isn’t working. I guess my ghost isn’t holy. You used to slip my hand inside the waistband of your underwear and say you were the glass half full. I finish stitching the Janus mask. It will make you look always in a mannish sleep. I try it on and smoke the cigarettes out of myself. I wait for you to say something. Is it too heavy? This face held on with string and staple, I’m ready to face God. I’ve had that conversation already, you say, and it’s like talking to yourself.
Matthew Gilbert has poems forthcoming or recently published in PANK, Columbia Poetry Review, Apalachee Review, DEATH HUMS, and elsewhere. In 2009 he was selected as a member of the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. He received his MFA from Columbia University in 2012.