A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Silence harbors every suspicion and the autumn rains stare them down. The trees are up to no good, says the gossip queen shaking her wooden cane at the lustrous sky breaking through the golden rain smeared across the horizon. It glares at her. She speaks the language of competition. No one brags about a missed opportunity. Success gets lost in the past and no one cares. Yet football goes on with its traditional war games and baseball yawns in her face. Details never shut up. It’s time to cozy up to silence and disappear.
She wakes up in the shade under palm trees bowing and scraping on the set of a soap opera. The sun dazzles the actors and freezes time. Vice resolves every contradiction. At this, she licks her chops. Why bother to disappear within the silence of a mountain or yearn to stretch out across the silence of a suspension bridge? Requires too much effort for this cripple, she says. Let the calm eye of a hurricane escort her into the silence outside fate.
Yet time delivers her into the silent swarm of fruit flies in her kitchen, a betrayal, perhaps. She schedules the routes of buses for the local port authority. She doesn’t drink port. She drinks male hormones suspended in her urine and blood and secretions from her mucus membranes poured into a chalice she holds up for consecration before a photograph of a slave lynched years ago. It sustains her deadly charm. She zaps the mute life of an individual fruit fly by splatting it against a wall with a wide rubber band.
Every time you crush a fruit fly, a fellow cripple tells her, you’re clipping the wings from all its protons and electrons. They’re the guarding angels of the subatomic world flying around to protect all things invisible. The queen says she’s been there. Innocent bystanders think they’re invisible. You can’t warn them. They line up for the slaughter while staring into their rosy mirrors to make sure they exist. This parade of human sacrifice is a secret, says her companion.
You can’t educate a secret. Many defy time and live in the throats of birds chortling about the discovery of the universe, once and always hidden beyond sight. And thriving in silence. She brandishes her wooden cane against the silent sky to indulge all her senses, smashing down her cane across her good knee breaking bone and wood. She feels her blood ooze. Tastes the sweet splinters of her cane. Hears the pain searing through her, the silence crackling at the back of her eyes.
She’s too proud to crawl and demands an electric wheelchair. No Special Olympics for her! She’d rather take a swig of her consecrated beverage and zip through the rain, defying the law against cripples crossing suspension bridges and hogging up the narrow switchbacks hugging the mountains. Up she goes bellowing out the lustrous language of radiant nouns, each discovering its shiny spot in the universe, silence given voice. One thing’s for sure, she shouts, self-sacrifice is much more charming than human sacrifice.
Copyright 2020 Sean Connolly
Sean Connolly writes and recites his stories in various cafes and bars in Pittsburgh, the Paris of Appalachia. His novel, A Great Place To Die, was praised by the Times Book Review for the seductive lyricism of its narration, and his satirical commentaries have been aired on NPR’s All Things Considered.