Mercurial Dana


Dana Michel in Mercurial George. Photo by Ian Douglas.

white tights hanging on legs that have walked and ran and been here before
there is a knowingness in this dark tunnel; the only way out is through
why do we insist on the strength of black bodies to hold the weight of a history they did not own?
what is hers, what is mine, what is ours

your shoes don’t fit; your pants don’t fit; your suit doesn’t fit
a walk that is tentative but balanced
raw but pristine
shaky but deliberate
are you mimicking for mockery or is there more

is your microphone set at the volume you need it to be
is your microphone plugged in
is your microphone feeling good today
is your microphone here for the same reasons you are

low murmurs trace a path so deep
your voice is with me even when I forget where it’s supposed to be
telling, talking, telling, talking
if no one hears you, are they listening?
you scrape your chin on the log
shirts and shirts and shirts and shirts and shirts and shorts
growing from the log, as you sit upon it

unstable legs
there’s an illness in you
something bad
you ate
or drank
or maybe
it was the culture

doing nothing
watching me, watching you
accomplishing nothing
it’s fine
you are so comfortable being watched
are you ok with being watched?
has anyone asked you
did you have a dramaturg
did you have a producer
or a grant writer
or a friend
or a collaborator
or a lover
there is a buzzing that won’t stop; if it stops, I am afraid of how you will go on

sitting alone
what is to happen
it’s not exhausting, but it could be
sitting alone
how we got here
inside a pulpit, atop a podium, within the sermon
I deliver
I advise
I laugh
I mumble
I slay

sitting alone
it’s an illusion, really
knead a large piece of dough
you’ll never bake bread; bread takes a long time to bake
the meat of it hits the ground with a soft thud
the flour is supposed to help
the more you use
the easier it gets
like love
or water

there is a childlike sense that

we can grow up and still play inside our minds
do we become jaded
or just informed
do we watch movies
or talk to our friends
do we sit in this room
or go protest
do we pay our full debts
or go call a senator

a memoir, this is
the most impersonal, nonlinear, subversive memoir I know
there was a moment in time
this was the only way to read you
this was the only way
this was

Dana Michel in Mercurial George. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Between Walled Rooms is a series of freeform responses to live performance works, initiated by Tara Sheena. This work is a response to Dana Michel’s Mercurial George and its performances during the 2017 American Realness festival. This writing received further workshop support through Eva Yaa Asantewaa’s Writer’s Circle series, a free workshop for dance-interested writers offered by Fourth Arts Block in early 2017.

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