On the Brim

Essay 16

One’s born onto a stage, into limelight, is pinched, is checked under beams, measured and washed, toes counted like props. One spends years learning lines that no man wrote. It takes an adult tragedy to think otherwise.

Humans are careful around edges, taught not to run with scissors, evade all that cuts or bites (as if one didn’t cut and bite oneself). Humans shrink back from the darkness, we’ll leave a small crack open, we whisper in concealment, our shoulders bare. The white in our eyes—called sclera—evolved to show the way.

When humans have grown up and are tilted for the first time, they look at where the stage ends, and shudder. That line beyond which there lies nothing, they stand on nothing, a stare. There’s a line beyond which no training helps. A space of unrehearsed movement, you’ll hurt yourself.

People glance toward the outside, their face half-hung in shadows, and find it hard to come back and continue to play.