Mermaids

I open my hands and shut them. I feel the muscles extend, grow, contract, widen, freeze into a ball.

I fold and unfold, marvelous as seaweed or wheat under sun and air, perhaps underwater I am continually moving.

Pain feels like stillness, erupting stills, like solid blocks supporting memory that flows. I push through as I swim. My head clears, my arms above my head as if I am a supplicant child. These walls give as much as the sun; they tell the space of my life beyond this pool of water.

Stretching out my mind builds a future. My path to the locker rooms, my body underwater again, under echoing linoleum, fluorescent and unchanging sky.

I will go to class to have time wring the water out of my bones. Listening, I will be restless to float back to where I am, under blue and in the blue chlorine.

I shiver when I leave the water, becoming bipedal again. It’s as if I know I am a mermaid, not a feature, a fixture, a facet of land but a droplet of water.

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Inevitable Sound

My musician friend compliments people’s voices. She comments on lower and higher registers, on properties of sounds I don’t listen to. I get caught up in words.

Words are doors and gates – always in the way. I fell out with my musician friend before she moved to California. I loved our friendship, but our connection fell apart over Facebook and so many messages sent without context or personality. Messages without the same weight or depth found in voices or laughter.

But now I know the importance of sound through her laugh, through her voice, which bubbles up from memory now and again, when provoked by the pitch or quaver of atmosphere.

She taught me what to look for by showing me how she played with frequencies and rhythms through her recording software. And in return, I gave her visuals, describing her different songs as waterfalls or hardware stores. It felt like adding substance to ambiance. But sound was always the stimulus or driver and it relegated me to a backseat in this kind of creation.

Sounds start and they don’t end. That’s why there are rests in music. Rests are punctuation. They do not change or increase the likelihood that sound or silence will follow and they don’t dictate whether or when or how relationships will be reinstated or terminated or put on hiatus.

 

When I fell out with my friend, I stopped writing. Because I failed at communicating with her, I wanted to stop altogether. To redirect my energies away from computer keyboards and notebooks and insensate visuals. Writing again, after a long hiatus, I can hear the words drop onto the page. My thoughts enunciate. I am so self-conscious when I hear myself. But this sound I can’t escape, I am. It’s a relief to find this susurrus alive in spite of pain and a thousand attempts at self-abdication.