I must have missed her that day. I must have missed her that day, ghost in the masses, elusive, silent, the white noise she carries. September 7th, 2016, In The Dust.
I didn’t see this woman that day but I see this woman all the time.
Kneeling, graying hair nesting on the curve of her neck, not crying, but suspended. Propping the white board up on the wood, silently kissing it goodbye with her eyes, fingertips, as simple as the words she’d written.
Here it stood and she walked away from it.
Hopefully it will be enough.
She had put it here to burn.
The board was plain and white. There weren’t any pictures on it, like the boards all around, mourning templates for dead uncles, overdosed girlfriends, the earth, the love that never was. It wasn’t feathered, with prose, pictures, poetry, vernacular or symbolic. No color scheme, no profundities.There was no begging.
“Ode to my left ear.”
Black sharpie. As simple as that.
I don’t know if she had done it like medicine. I have no idea how she meant it (was it for her or for me?) when she set it free there in the temple on September 7th 2016. I have no idea if she let it burn, or if it could burn.
If burning implied freedom from it. Or if it just burned.
I think about her transition to it. I want to know if it happened like a quickening and then a full stop. Asphyxiation.
If it dissolved into itself.
Or if it whined and rang and roared her raw, if it wouldn’t quit stealing her attention. Nagging. Crumpling her focus.
I want to know if she blames herself, images of her displeased mother materializing before bed. Habitual Use. The Outcome of Gluttony.
Or if, by chance, she’s joyous for it. A wet coat of thick blue. A vibration. Aloe vera. A running down the skin like water.
I want to know if she finds herself sailing in it. If she lets it fall, soft.
If her world privately crystalizes, a secret no one knows. The ten shades of a leaf.
The shape of honesty.
I want to know if she bothers now and then to document sounds with words, to remember. The hitch before the laughter. The whoosh of the subway. The turn of a page. The low, pleased hum that can only be heard with one’s left ear, at approximately midnight, in the dead of summer, buried in the chest of a man you love.
Or if she lets it go. Sublimation.
I think about stereocilia. Perhaps to my detriment. I think about each single strand, finite, naked, tragically defenseless to the influx of waves, a physical force that causes the ear hairs to bend, to hit the drum, to activate the sound. I am relentless with sound. I squeeze it like lemons into morning light, a little here won’t hurt. I journey with it inside of me on my way to work. In motion. In coffee. When I cook coconut rice.
I have come alive in the pinch of a bass.
I took it to the fjords of Southern Chile. I took it straight the night I almost got kicked out of college, drugged myself in it, to make the stomach unclench.
I recall my sister mentioning if I took another god-damn item of clothing out of her closet without asking she would no longer be my sister. I recall a door-slam.
The inhale, crackle. The exhale.
I use it when I tell my grandma I love her. When I tell her one day I might be a lawyer and she says What!? I thought you were gonna be my flower child! and proceeds to tell me about the painting she made, and how she didn’t realize until after the fact that the birds flying out of the neck of the woman on the ocean was perhaps symbolism. And sometimes I use it in the middle of the night when I talk to Shalynn after she’s come off a mountain on the other side of the world.
I listen to my mama lay law, at any time, to any one, under any circumstances, the lighthouse of truth, the undercurrent of me, the voice I replay when I make decisions that matter.
I hear security guard telling me to “have a good night baby girl”, she’ll see me in the morning. She laughs a lot and she shrieks when she does it. You can feel her ricochet the marble walls. Telling us all to Be Easy.
Distinctions extracted from silence that form meanings.
How I have experienced life to this day.
I think of her in stadiums, airports, in the eyes of strangers, invisible plights, invisible joys, occasionally when I take my coffee. On the bus. When I overhear a woman of 60 or maybe 70 tell a very young man whom she has never met before that he would absolutely love a book that she herself has not yet read, and that he should take her number down, “just in case”.
When I put water in my plants and listen to it sink, quench.
In the silence that is more dynamic than we might at first assume. In beauty too lucid for wording. In truth.
Sometimes I wonder if I had seen her, would I ask.
But I do believe that would be missing the point entirely.