A Morning Lament - Ezra Burstein

I wake well before the first light, waltz to the bathroom, sing in the shower, and purr to the kiss of my razor.

It is day one, and in my mind I paint all of the perfect faces that I have missed.

One-hundred fifty faces and yours.

“Mom, I’m ready, lets go!”

I am alone in the car, eager for mother to twist the key and take me away. To you.

There is no traffic, nothing to block me on my path.

“Thanks, Mom.”

The door slams closed. I see a friend and run.


I wake early, march to the bathroom, glisten after my shower, and take the first stroke with my razor.

I have seen who I wanted and discovered all who I have missed. I want to go back, to hear and to speak. I would like to build more. With you.

“Mom, are you ready to leave now?”

She makes me wait five more minutes, I don’t complain.

I think of what I have seen, and dream of what I will see again.

I close the door and walk inside.


I wake up, walk to the bathroom, turn on the water, and lift my razor.

Days have gone by: days of laughter and knowledge and stories. I’m glad knowing I will see my friends today, but the images in my mind begin to cast more realistic shadows. Darker shadows.

I wait by the front door until Mom comes down to take me back.

Dreams come and go along the way, but the characters resemble those who I met in far countries and on distant journeys. Not here. Friends who I will see only in my mind… they make me smile. Like you sometimes do.

“I’ll see you later, Mom.”

I spot a kid from Biology class leaving the car behind me and begin to walk faster.


I wake to the screams of my alarm, trek across mountains and rivers to                     the bathroom, burn under the scorching water, and succumb to the sting of my razor.

The sun has faded to a cold grey accompanied by the frowns and groans of this time of year. Warmth has vanished, and he’s too far ahead of us to believe that he will ever return.

I find myself besides the car, unaware of the journey that has taken me here.

The clouds block the light that should have cast my shadow, but I feel the presence reflected around me anyway.

“Mom, it’s so cold.”

She turns on the heater, as if that’s what I need.

The icy air cuts deep as the car door cracks open. Just if it would slice you down.


The bitter winds open my eyes, fly me to the bathroom, freeze me in the shower, and force my razor to act as a chisel.

It doesn’t want to move, but I see my hands thrusting it down anyway, chipping away through the ice.

My dreams, tormented by previous days, bring it all, the darkness, to life.

How I watched them turn to destruction as there became less and less to build.

How her soft hand slid down my burning, gashed cheeks.

How you seem to run further and further away, even as I try harder to find you.

Once I had been running, but now I slump. Lower and lower. Until I am buried under ground, you standing above me with a shovel that we crafted together, watering my grave with our tears.

Mom calls from the car.

I go down.

The car ride erases these dreams, like a plume of dust floating away with every rotation of the wheels.

I have left the car, but without my dreams I am lost in this blizzard.

What is that burning light from ahead, peering down through the darkness? You told me you never started fires. What is this warm winter air coming from the doorway?

I guess you lied.


I stir from a haunted sleep, stumble off cliffs and rocks into my bathroom, land in        the empty shower, and pluck another feather from my soul as the razor slices my skin.

Why must the demons follow us? They creep and dance into our lives until they are all we can see.

The burning honks of the car steal my footing, and I fall to the ground less whole than before.

“Shut up, Mom.” I yell in the false reality of my mind,

The only part you seem to dwell in anymore.

Waiting in the traffic, all of the dark faces come to me. They are blurred and distorted in a fashion that can only be reality.

I leave my car as the dark shadows shed by this place surround me. Consume me.


The soft hands of Mom carry me out of sleep. “Sweetie, we must go in ten minutes.” Unknowingly, I must have descended in and out of the beautiful abyss of sleep.

I rush to the bathroom and gaze into the mirror.

Portrayed in front of me in a new spring light is all that I have become in                  the twilight: a darkness more vast than the shades plaguing my mind.

I pick up my razor and drop it in the trash.

The steam that rose up—it couldn’t have been fake. The steam melted the lies         and allowed me to breath again. A fresh spring breath.

“Mom, I’m ready when you are.”

The sun shines on this day.

The winds blow cold, the clouds pierce holes in the blanket of light, the fog rises,    but the sun still shines as it glistens off my stubbly cheeks and unwashed hair.

The door to the car closes, and as I waltz over to school a new doorway blossoms ahead.


I thought I glimpsed your shadow before me.