Strip cartoon

Strip cartoon

Take away my clothes

And what is left but flesh?

Pink and pale, shivering

Stretch-marks and scars,

Muscles poorly defined

Beneath layers of fat.

Take away my success,

And what is left but obscurity?

Another also-ran

Amid the hordes of hopefuls

Bunched in the mid-list

Left behind by the winners.

Take away my words

And what is left but silence?

Ringing like an ancient bell,

The absence and memory

Of sound and meaning

Fading to nothingness.

Take away my strength

And what is left but weakness?

A wasting of limbs and sinew,

A withering of vigour,

Thinning to feebleness

And the shame of dependence.

Take away my visions

And what is left but blindness?

The future fading to black

The hoped-for worlds

Unborn and uncreated

Dying in the mind-womb.

Take away my memories

And what is left but emptiness?

A person without past

A woman without precedents

Unanchored by time

Unplaced in the world.

If you take it all away,

What is left of me?

How deep must this stripping go

Before I become unadopted atoms

My identity and meaning

Blown to the four winds

Like summer dust when gales

Usher in the autumn cold?

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