Issue 73, Spring-Summer 1978
You don’t have to worry.
Your secrets are safe with me.
Your secret of how you construct a beautiful necklace from rainwater.
Your secret of where the Spanish swords are buried in your back yard.
Your secret of where you go each night with three changes
of clothes and a toy piano,
of what you do with those hundreds of wristwatches
that arrive at your house each day,
and where you hide your broken arm.
I won’t tell anyone about your plastic surgery,
or your magical fountain pen,
or the three dying leopards in your garage.
I will not tell them about your life in South America before the war,
when you met a woman who could turn men into sunglasses,
how you tortured her until she told you the names
of several high-ranking government officials
known to be addicted to laudanum and perspiration.
Nor will I reveal your secret cure for spider bites,
or for the kind of headaches
you get from looking too long at beautiful things.
No one will find out from me what is in the large black
suitcase you keep handcuffed to your left ankle.
I will keep your laryngitis a secret,
as well as your whale, your pirate mask, and your knife collection.
I will not tell anyone about your tour of the orient,
or what you found under the baggage scale in the railroad station at Kuala Lumpur.
I will keep all of your other secrets as well.
Your secret of how you can sleep
with the sportscars racing past your bedroom window and night.
Your secret of how you smuggled sixteen thousand heavily sedated virgins
across the Mexican border into Texas.
Your secret of where you hire pack elephants in Cleveland,
and of what their mysterious cargo will be.
The secret of your continuous pajamas,
your frostbite secret, your exploding handkerchief secret.
No one will find out from me what is behind
the enormous painting of Charles Dickens on your dining room wall.
Nor will I tell the secret of how much you paid for the
mink-lined false teeth you carry everywhere,
or the secret of the bright pink locomotive in your garden.
You can count on me;
I won’t breathe a word to anyone,
my lips are sealed,
I won’t tell a living soul,
it’s just between the two of us,
wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me,
and furthermore I’ll keep it under my hat,
I won’t let on I know a thing.
I will always keep your hair-growing secret, your secret of crop distribution,
and your secret of how you compose music that will make
all those who have heard it
wake up in the middle of the night
and wander through the empty rooms of their houses,
looking for the long-forgotten emblems of a family weakness.
Even if they fill my mouth with live bumble bees,
and put burning chop sticks on my bare feet, I will remain silent.
They won’t find out anything from me.
The letter openers under my fingernails will get them nowhere.
I will not tell them about your plane crash souvenirs,
or your secret formula for turning ammonia gas into diamonds.
Even if they cover my body with spiders,
or make me brush my teeth with a red hot toothbrush,
I will not give in. I am steadfast.
I know that you have discovered a new way to manufacture
aviation equipment, but I will not reveal it.
I will not tell them about your wall safe, or your disappearing ink.
I will not even tell them about your life with the
bootlegger’s beautiful albino daughter.
I will not tell the man in the wheelchair aiming his shotgun at my testicles,
or the girl with the beautiful dress made of broken glass.
I will not tell the asthmatic heart surgeon,
or the policewoman with the shaved head.
I will not even tell the aging herpetologist with the scar above his right eye.
Other people I will not tell your secrets to:
dog-nappers, arsonists, men with jewelry, or women with artificial limbs.
If you must trust someone with your secrets,
then I am the ideal person. I am unshakable.
And another thing, I am loyal and trustworthy.
I will not even tell anyone where you’ve hidden your supply of Chinese cigars,
or what you will do with the crate of gas masks
that was left on your porch this afternoon by a man in a gorilla suit.
We all have secrets—some that we hear and some that we are born with.
But the secret of secrets is to keep them secret.
And I know all about secrets, some of the most famous secrets in the world.
I even know the secret of keeping secrets.
Please trust me, please love me, keep me to yourself.
I am a man with no mouth,
a man with no sense of smell,
no memory, all conscience, and nerve to burn.
Love me as you would like to love yourself,
love me as you would love your secrets.