The lights turned low,
But I was lower.
Illumination receded like a tide that ebbed,
And people gathered in pools, clustered for safety.
I stood alone, holding the microphone in sweaty hands
A sailor; adrift in the sea and clutching a broken spar.
The room was full of tangible surface tension you could almost stand on,
A school of piranha that roiled just below the obvious.
Everyone watched, expectant as I swallowed hard,
My mouth a desert and throat lined with sandpaper.
Words came hard, the syllables a square peg
While my lips; a round hole.