Strange tongue, stubbed with words, dark with hunger, can’t speak. Stout muscle, choking vine, ribbon of lies. It takes your breath, hides your key, sucks your teeth. It swells in your mouth for a drink. It says your prayers.
I wanted to be annoyed with her. I was annoyed with her, I mean. But as always my husband intervened, pointing out that my annoyance was irrational and unfair, even cruel.
He was right. My reactions to her faults were outsized, disproportionate. No good came from these grudges. When I felt them flaring up, I did my best to suppress them. I was pleasant, because that was reasonable and just, and I wanted to be pleasant, reasonable, and just. That’s who I thought I was. That’s who I wanted to be.
A gentle sound, a murmuring, a wooden bowl of voices rolling around like marbles, never loud, never harsh, never letting up. An aberration, he thinks, sure to fade, but it does not fade, does not turn into background noise like a creek’s chuckle, because in the sound he hears, at irregular intervals, and only half-certain, his own name—two syllables, a certain rhythm, familiar trochee.
What were they saying about him, or to him. What was he missing: he was looking at the soaps on a shelf in a grocery store, trying to remember the one he liked, when his name floated through him as if called out, an intonation that made clear his engagement was expected, but he’d missed what came before and couldn’t understand—try as he might, looking now at the floor, his hands on his ears, standing perfectly still–what was being asked of him.
I’m very excited to see this in the world: a book by some of my favorite friends, the photographers and saints Raymond Meeks and Adrianna Ault. My early quarantine was redeemed by the experience of working with Ray to come up with some words for this book; my late (middle? early, part 2?) quarantine is elevated by the experience of seeing those words tucked in among Ray’s radiant pictures. Forever grateful to have been a small part of this project.
(A collaboration with Google)
What we were talking about:
Lovers and geography
My tai chi instructor
My mother’s voice
Laughing without the slightest
awareness, over and over
a place we feel safe
a moving landscape
Then it all came apart,
this brief chance to be
the spark was lit in me
My skin is looser
no longer lost, I am very
comfortable with this.
I am haunted by the memory
The other stuff is just thinking
“We were all aware that there was a disaster brewing, or already afoot, but I hoped it would ask no more of the restaurant than any disaster does: simply that we stay open, tough it out, feed people, and let them feel normal for at least the duration of a meal.”
The fence at the back of our yard in Virginia had been pulled at for years by honeysuckle, and a gap had opened at one corner, so when we got bored with keeping track of the ghost runners in our backyard baseball game we would slip through the fence into the woods behind, which seemed, at the time, limitless, dangerous, and entirely ours.