We said we’d never speak of it.
How we’d never let our hearts out of their cages. How you couldn’t look at me, half smile upon your lips, and let me lose myself in your eyes.
How I’d never greet you at your door in the middle of a moonless night because I couldn’t bear to be so bold and ask to bathe in your light.
We said we’d always keep it tucked away in some airtight space, nestled between memory and dreams. I promised you that I would be a brave girl, that when someone asked, no matter how recent or distant, that I would pinch my tears and remember in a detached sort of way.
“Cage the heart,” you said. Because a caged bird couldn’t be shot down. Because it could not soar it could not plummet. And being one who listens, I wrapped us tightly in the creases of my mind so we couldn’t see the sun and yearn to fly.
A letter in the mailbox. Block handwriting, all caps and slight slant. A postage stamp with the face of Eleanor Roosevelt. An envelope swelling with pages and drops of rain.
You slip it in your jacket pocket to keep the drizzle from further dampening the words but take your time walking the steps, matching each footfall to the thump of your heart. Dusk has fallen, free from the burden of the day and growing shadows on your walls. Joni Mitchell is singing through your stereo, her pipe organ voice preaching of life’s cycle around a carnival ride, the train of age that roams without brakes. You keep the lights off, lighting candles and placing them in clusters through the living room, categorized by scent- citrus freshly squeezed atop the coffee table, floral rose and lavender floating across the cherry wood bookshelf, sans books since you moved volumes to a chest in your bedroom.
Your jacket hangs across the couch, exhausted from keeping your manila treasure safe. You brush it as you move into the cushions and unfold yourself into the leather, sliding out the envelope that’s been waiting patiently. Joni is now launching into “Court and Spark,” spurring your fingers to slide open the mystery in your hand.
Lined white pages stained with black ink focus before your face, and with a twitch of your lips, triggered by the name you know is etched at the bottom of the last page, you wade into the salutation, each line covering more of your skin, until you are immersed in its waters.
I have become the lake I love so dearly. Eyes swimming with shimmering blue, white crystal sparkle along the edges. Hands flush with reeds, wild bouquet of branches bending towards the shore. Ears lazy voice of the wind, breeze blowing cool and confident. Heart entangled between the rocks, soft underbelly of flesh that slides smooth in delicate places. And my soul, reflection of the sky, right-side up or upside down in puffs of clouds crawling languidly to a point unknown, vast exploration.
A jewel of a dream, twinkling like a snowflake just fallen on a fresh winter’s day. A gleam, a wink of an eye, close but a fingertip’s length away. It’s what I want, and I can feel it boiling in my belly, simmering, taste its sweetness upon my breath. In a dark night, it unwraps light, giving sight to black veils and polarizing the world with vibrant blinking strings of pearls. My desire is no match for its beauty, its grace, and by its shimmer I guide my heart to its shore. I am directionless without it. Yet still it smiles, still turns translucent in its shine just beyond my reach, beyond a line paining the horizon. It shines for me, my beacon of dreams.
Things that enter by way of silence:
a kiss in the stifled curtain of night.
whispers, out of a pent up desire to speak.
summer showers, falling quietly from a heavy sky.
your eyes, spread across my face.
blood rushing through your ears.
the sea, in the middle of the night.
feelings, too afraid to hope out loud.
each star that streaks in early morning.
footfall, leading to my heart.
grass shifting in the wind.
pages read under lamplight and covers.
An immobile time not marked on clocks.
Between the waters of remembrance and sky of dreams, it is here where you are suspended with me, the only two beings in a blooming field of awakening.
You are familiar to me, and though I cannot find your face, your spirit is loud and leads me to a place where I am calm and unafraid.
Smooth, like chocolate on your tongue.
A mist, winding through your senses and relaxing every muscle in your being.
Fingers of the sun, slipping into your subconscious.
Soft rain drops kissing your skin.
You float above the world, satin dancing as you lower your body to the bed sheets,
wrapping them over you, a caterpillar awaiting metamorphosis.
Sometimes she forgets what she wants.
She’ll leave a bit of it on the beach, half buried in beige wrinkled sand, forever discarded like a lost pair of sunglasses. Only when she is safe and sound, miles from the shore and waist deep in monotonous moments will she realize her chest is lighter, that there is an empty space where all her other pieces slide around and jostle for the extra leg room.
She’ll search for it, casually at first, because she must have simply left it upstairs. But then the panic grows and she tears apart the house, the yard, the car, running through each hidden crevice it could have crawled into. When the hours fold into one another and all resources have been exhausted, she crumples onto the feather bed, despondent, fear gripping her eyes because now she’ll have to live with no fire in her heart, no passion providing her drive. It is a fate worse than death and she’ll curse her forgetfulness and rue that second on the beach when she tossed one last look behind her and blinked when her sight scanned the tall, shimmering grass that held her diamond of a desire.
You hear a siren.
Smooth, her voice spreads like buttercream across a fog draped abyss. Warm, caramel melting beside a blazing fire, logs popping in excitement to dance in the flames.
Over the churning sea she calls to you, slow in her symphony, direct in delivery. A soothing breath falls around your shoulders, tender to the touch. Your eyes lock ahead, straining through the steam that rises upwards like a reverse rainfall. Just a glimpse of her will set your heart at ease, if only for a moment so you could bathe in her light.
Your ear strains to make out more of the melody, as the magnet of your heart pulls your ribs, your limbs, your veins, to reattach themselves to this maestro. The notes she raises are deliberate and delicious, sweet to the taste and pleasing to digest. Currents weave your path closer, urgently, to hers, as you helplessly release your will to her rhapsody.
In the final crescendos, she catches your contentment and creates a terrorizing throb of dread, where waves, cold and alerting, slap at your face, and you realize, awake and afraid, that you are sailing to your doom.
In the beginning, a breath of shadow escaped the fluffed lips of a stranger.
Shifting and sliding, it rolled across the air and fell upon the open ears of a woman, who, though never hearing the murmured sound before, knew she would never go another day without it. Tongues tied into each other, ribboned bruised and searching paths, leading to additional river’s speech, rolling water into a young mind rising to its potential. A hollow echo, bouncing around a falling forest, speech speckled through branches growing tall and aware. A boy, tucked into the warmth of words resting inside him. Expanding exhales as he aged, smiling his heart into another unsuspecting stranger. The lineage of language multiplies, line after line, a barely breaking audible in sonnets sung by two, then two, then two, down the stream until they rest, lapping lightly, against your bank.
It is your turn, now. The golden clock of time and eternity springs poised on your tongue. The whispers and trails of those before you have led to your new lead. Ancestors hover in the heavens, waiting for your mouth’s movement sweetly leaking to a soft stranger who unfolds your voice for the first deep breath one night, when the breaking of your barrier falls in feathered hope alongside her own dissipating defense.