Brendan Egan

Mixed Monologues

(from a play about glass swans)

We were only kids then, torn up paper kids. I lived in a house with my parents, an old place, and when we left it you helped me move. You took off, went to find work somewhere miles away. It was the natural thing to do. I think it had to be done. And I stayed in someplace that was my home, or someone’s home, or something. Plankwood floored the house and barnwood bore the heavy chips of roof cedar tiles, waterlogged and motor oiled. It wasn't immediate, I didn't die instantaneously and a couple times before I went I heard from him...letters. It was the letters that stopped time.

It was the only place I knew. I think...I opened the envelopes and caught frames from his life, stills from a paused VCR. Maybe not pausing, but even rewinding and then there were two times at once. So old. Each beam composed of only knots, they testified to the strength of scars, the residual energy of age reserved as sap clots, where once were socketed now amputated limbs. Mine and his and the separation of distance and buttons marked with symbols and operations.

We were split in two, in so many ways. I was split and it couldn't last like this, so many directions...I fell. It was the last time I knew you. Senile brick stared blank at the road; its salmon dermis plucked by savage ivy vines, suckers and runners weaving a basket over the porky blocks. That's what killed me; the fall from three stories up, the roof of this new house, somebody's home. It shocked people. Not because I fell because there was ice on the roof and putting in windows is not an easy job, but because three stories is not that many, relatively that's no distance at all. You couldn't understand the change. You didn't know what happens to people so far from their memories.

On the basement floor were the scrap bits such as grout in tubs to grid the kitchen tile, and cracked storm windows and twenty pound sacks of caked concrete and all the buried refuse of construction. And who knew you could die from your own roof? But if done the right can die any way you like. You can do it in no time at all.

When we moved you refused

To let me cry.

Only a house.


I wrenched these words out of a piece intended for the stage. I called the play "Cygnus." The material of the play came out of some short stories I had written a few years ago and some Irish myths about fatal love affairs. None of the previous incarnations worked for me so I pieced a couple of monologues together in a new way. This form, the result of so much reshaping, is a bastardization: afailed poem created from the refuse of failed stories in a failed play.