unknow me

unknow me

pretend you don’t know me
is that impossible? pretend it’s not
i want to be unknown—
freed from implications, limitations and expectations
of the past

so, pretend
i am simply a person you don’t know
light giver
light seeker

see my smile and let it be a smile—not a means to an end
but a smile
see my wrinkles and let them be stories you have not yet heard,
adventures you have not yet taken,
lessons i have learned

see my eyes and note their color—green like kelp
see them seeing you (because they do)
see them seeking recognition
see them noting everything—
blossoms on the magnolia tree,
ant crawling up the wall
your smile after making me laugh
the centimeter our children have grown overnight
the pee on their bathroom floor

pretend twenty plus years of knowing me don’t exist
just me today
in my bathrobe with coffee breath
tear-streamed face
thirsty for more than one glass of water
see me wash the pee off the bathroom floor, smile
when you walk by pretending i’m just a person

pretend i haven’t done this a million times before—
tried to control my universe
to outrun anxiety
pretend you don’t know i will do it again
and again and again but
hopefully fewer and farther between
pretend you don’t know how annoying i can be
how absolutely exhausting
my issues
my flaws
my limits
my laws
my “am i enough?”

unknow me and this life we’ve lived
the highs—our children
the lows—financial ruin
pretend we never let despair get the best of us
pretend we never broke our vows
pretend there’s nothing to get past
or fear or prevent or protect or out—

pretend you don’t know me
because i’m worth discovering anew
(my cells are not the same cells anyway)
pretend you don’t know exactly what i’ll say before i say it
pretend you don’t know how you’ll feel when you see me
pretend you don’t know i am
an overtalker
a control-freak
a dreamer

pretend you don’t know it might never be
i want to pretend this too—that there’s even an enough to get to
unknow how not enough it can be
unknow our past and set it free
this pulsing heart that wants, needs and is desperate
to be loved
how much love will be enough? let’s pretend we don’t already know
the answer to that question

pretend i don’t suffocate you with expectations and
i’ll pretend i don’t know that you take yourself
like a wounded boy high up in a treehouse hidden deep
in the woods

i’ll pretend i don’t know what you’ll say
before you even say it
that i haven’t already heard that joke
a million times before
i unknow you to discover you,
to discover your sense of play, the sensual sound of your voice

pretend you don’t know me
and that I mostly don’t know how to play
that letting go is hard for me
that I’m capable of drowning us in my tears
also laughing until my stomach spasms

pretend we never stood in that elevator feeling
electrical chemistry pulling us towards each other, our destiny
unknow what happens next
what it feels like to kiss me
your soft lips pressing mine erase everything else—
the past, my brain, that fight, the next, the bills
the dishes, the resentment, the work, the unfinished,
the abandoned, the incomplete,
the “am i enough?”

nothing but lips pressing lips
and tongues gently touching

my heart ...
i want to unknow this feeling—
that my heart suffers an overuse injury
i will pretend that i’m not afraid it might break
for good

i want to unknow us
i want to see each other for the first time
every day
every moment
is that possible? pretend that it is

you see me—just a person
i see you—just a person
i smile and your heart flips at the appearance of my dimples
your hand brushes mine and i’m a puddle on the floor

pretend that we didn’t make two humans together
as though we made them and now that’s done
but we continue to make two humans with our love
pretend you don’t know what my body went through that day
pretend you didn’t almost faint when you watched the epidural go into my spine
pretend you didn’t bring me witch hazel—soaked post-partum panties from the freezer
to soothe my destroyed vagina
pretend you didn’t hold me while I went through it all over again

pretend i never cried all those times when the world was too much
pretend i never cried

pretend i’m just a person and you
not yesterday
not today
not tomorrow
not ever

instead …
discover that you want to discover every day
with me
a person with kelp eyes and a dimpled smile
and messy heart and flaws creased into her face
and a brain that is sometimes—often times—her enemy
and who has a laugh you like to hear
and if you choose to discover life and me—just a person—today
that doesn’t mean you’ll choose that tomorrow
but if you do keep choosing,
remember to unknow me
and i’ll remember to unknow you

unknow our vows
there are no vows but this moment
in which I’m just a person
a human
light and water and possibility
and you
unknown human with a kind smile
and present gaze

who are you? I get to discover
but never know
because knowing is the death of curiosity
but love is in the act of discovering

so, please
unknow me
i unknow you
and set out to discover, discover
who you are

right now, this very moment
and this one
and now this one
because I don’t know you
and you don’t know me

*Feature Image: Created for Pipeline Artists by Emily Barnes

Stephanie Alison Walker is a playwright known for her award-winning plays Friends With Guns and The Madres. She is committed to radical truth-telling and vulnerability in both life and her work.
More posts by Stephanie Alison Walker.
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