Friday, March 22, 2013

POEM: The Lives of Voices

I found a voice on the street and thought it was mine.
It was robust, fitting so well into my vest pocket, that I thought it might be the voice of reason so I kept it, hidden from the tirade of winter, dry and warm for future use.
I wore this voice as a sacred undergarment, not unlike those worn by Mormons.

The next day, while hiking, I found a wounded voice in the woods.
Tattered in its timbre, faded at its edges, I brought it home and made it Portuguese White Bean and Kielbasa soup to give it heart, to fatten its soul. I hoped to make one reconstituted voice, capable of unnerving prayer, the kind of prayer that makes you shiver from the openness, the kind of prayer that precedes a great discovery.

Friends encouraged this voice, asking her to sing, asking her to recite poems and to do her interpretive dance.

Her nerves grew and shrank based on the temperature of the dreams she had at night: hot dreams made her stand taller and want to preach; cool dreams made her believe she was a mushroom nobody saw fit to bear witness to.

On evenings, wandering city streets, my own voice often abandoned me, dancing down the alley-ways, bounding off of narrow walls, off of stucco buildings, pink in its carousing, drinking, finding women of low self-esteem, lifting their spirits and their skirts.

In the morning, my voice would skulk back, headache in hand, remorseful for having bounced over the cobblestone of its own imagination only to find its way home on the back of a whisper.

Sometimes, especially in the fall, in the season of great migrations, I find voices strewn all over New England, each one needing a hand up, each one in search of an inner ear and rubbing bones.

Not every voice makes the journey in one piece of course.
Some are carried off by the wind on horseback never to be heard again.
Some voices take a lifetime to bubble up, to boil like White Bean and Kielbasa soup until it is soup.
Some voices are just a glance, or a touch.
Still others paint their hands bright saffron and touch everything.

For dreamers, a voice dribbles out into the 13 billion year old universe, waving to passing celestial bodies, never once looking for an ear to inhabit.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Carol's Language Fetish

Carol always wanted to learn a foreign language, so she signs up at the community college to learn Mandarin, but Chinese is a tonal language and Carol is tone deaf.  So she drops the course in favor of learning American Sign Language because she always wanted to be able to send secret signals to others without being overheard. She wonders if it is possible to be overseen, but registers anyway.

She is afraid of being listened to and what that means.

She practices in the mirror, pretends that her reflection is deaf and wonders if the image is impressed with her fluency.

No one ever visits her though, and over time, she realizes that knowing other languages does not, in itself, promote understanding, just the potential for understanding, and she remembers a time when she was out in public at her favorite Indian Restaurant eating her dal makhani, when another woman fainted, driven to convulsions by some spice in the chutney, how she secretly prayed that someone would need a person who knew ASL, but it never happened. Not once as long as she frequented that restaurant did it happen. They just called 9-1-1 instead and she watched three very handsome and muscular Latino EMTs perform CPR as though this woman were an organ and they were holding a concert until they brought the woman back to life.  The woman, as it turns out, was not deaf and did not even know what ASL was.