I’m at the bar.
It’s a controlled madness,
with music beating faster than my heartbeat,
making it jump forward as if forced to dance
like a puppet in a show where no one’s watching.
The bartender looks at me.
He raises his eyebrows, pierced and sparkling as beads of sweat
furrow in the bushes.
I scan the beer taps and see names
that might as well be Russian
and some probably are.
I point to one and hope it won’t taste as bitter
as the fake confidence I give when I’m sober.
I grab the glass in my hand and join the table.
Mixing dialogue with malted barley to create a concoction
that is priceless in its form.
I hate the taste of alcohol—
a sweetened vinegar that wraps around my tongue,
scrambling to hold on as it slides down,
I always finish it last.
As the empty glasses double and triple,
I hold on to mine.
But it’s enough.
Its job is to explore my body.
To untie the knots of my nerves
and unlock the coffers that keep my words.
See, I am always afraid.
Like walking through a haunted house ride
awaiting the scares,
but nobody’s home.
But when the room begins to oscillate
and the laughter sounds like affection
instead of derision—
Slow, at first.
It starts in my stomach.
The flutter of butterflies
flaps its wings in chorus.
Then, an orchestra;
the apex of an opus,
a wallop of ecstasy.
The conductor, bubbling in my mouth,
makes its way down again.
This time, more gently, with more grace.
And as the music keeps its high,
in my ears and in my body,
I forget why I ever hated the taste of something so magical.