John Cena Is the Only Thing That Is Left Here

You couldn’t blame her: the weeks prior had thrown trees through places trees have never been, had torn scars through asphalt, neighbors pouring out from front doors that no longer exist: children stomping on anthills to watch insects stronger than we’ll ever be tangle their bodies together to escape the caving in of all they have built.

But nothing about the game was real: not in how his grotesque mouth would open to nothing, how those were textures that didn’t deserve mapping. Here, a place that doesn’t deserve the shaping of polygons, of how we dig with our hands & still say the wrong thing at dinner tables, we suffer despite not knowing what exists outside of cages: that the world around us knows more about where we are than we do—us, brooms in hand bringing whatever we could gather because gathering is the only thing that we could possibly think to do.

In the game, he is more superhuman than he is in real life: muscles swollen out from underneath low-rising socks—a man who can expose skin because he is not worried about exposure to the brambles left behind by the wind—someone who can bleed and not think anything of it because there has been nothing left to rust. There is no blood. No broken glass from beer bottles or blown out windows: how the weather can cause things so false: that there are shapes on maps, that there are colored splotches that signify that it is going to rain soon, and it will take everything that you have.

Instead, we have a version of a man who is a version of a man that he has always been: undeviating in anything but his stature—wristbands like the ones he wore on television, a military salute at the beginning of the ramp. He walks in small steps: head always focused on his opponent—as if there is nothing else in the world that we can focus on except the task at hand: we tend to forget about what is happening beyond where we are—a beautiful thing when we are in love, when we are asking for the world’s admiration, yet heartbreaking when there are rumors of dead bodies being found in the bottom of the lake, a set of bones caught in a basement.

And yet there he was, as inevitable as a news ticker: a statement of a fact, a prayer gone half-answered: the crowd around him moving in a patterned unison—they do not deviate from their purpose; arms go up and out and loop until the match is over or the console shuts off.

As a child, none of this would’ve been possible: the recreation of our heroes too muddled to be taken seriously—a representative on a curved screen; our champion here as a pale blob in blue shorts; nothing differentiating himself from the idols of his past or the devils of his present. As a child, I wouldn’t have been trusted to cook pots of red beans—I would not have known to let them soak: they would come out hard and bitter; everything would be ruined, and we would all go hungry: everyone would leave this place because there is no weight to hold us down, and us too would break pattern into something a bit more believable—separate ways until we are the ones at the bottom of lakes, that instead of being picked up we are driven downward—a cyclone in reverse, a drill downward that places us underneath the dirt with no knowledge of what direction to climb.

And perhaps this is why these days we don’t believe in gravity: a leap with a man on his back before sending him crashing to the floor. We beg buttons to try to coax our men to get up because this is what we were taught to do when we were young: that there was something that we could do if we were down and out on the floor, eyes to the fluorescent lights—that this is our natural reaction: to try to put action into something that has been long left dormant. And so when someone walks in and mistakes what is on the television for something real, despite the fact that this is an artifice of an artifice of an artifice, I cannot fault them: that there are dust clouds where houses once stood and they are dissipating on the wind—that we will give directions in regards to where things once were—that despite one’s desire to change: to become something new, to reinvent, to wave a hand over a different face, we are still locked into an array of repetition, of not seeing things that we can no longer see, but seeing the absence so clearly.