Maybe someday I will wake up and the words will be there.
They will come easily. I will open my mouth and I will speak the things I see and feel and wish for.
My thoughts are loud whispers in my head. I do not know how to not hear them, but they are silent to the rest of the world.
Maybe someday my thoughts will learn how to reach my mouth. I will talk and people will hear. I will become audible.
Someday I will become used to the sound of my own voice.
But until then…
I will write.
A gap in the chain link fence serves as the gate to the park. Five swings hang slack from a sturdy metal pipe structure. The merry-go-round is on a slight slant. When it spins it scrapes gashes in a bald patch of ground. The slide is a long, narrow, metal chute, the sort that quickly gets too hot to touch when the sun comes out. The peak is scarily high. A large old tire, probably from a tractor, lies flat on the ground. Some attempt at a climbing structure, though the tall grass growing out of its center makes it look more like an oversized potted plant. Just on the other side of the chain link fence stands the water tower- its squashed gum drop of a body held up by six spindly legs. On top of the water tower is a star made of Christmas lights.
Outside the old gas station, a black tarp covers the ‘Gas’ sign. They don’t sell gas here anymore. The Marlboro sign beside it still stands uncovered, proud and self-satisfied. There are more signs lining the windows of the convenience store, advertising different brands of cigarettes and beer.
There’s another playground, a wooden structure with a faded green plastic slide. The blue and red and yellow paint is peeling off the wood. My older sister helped paint it years ago as a community service project. There’s a cement court with a single basketball hoop. The backboard is a square of unpainted plywood. A half deflated ball lies beneath it, abandoned. This is where they do the fireworks on Fourth of July. We all sit on blankets or camp chairs back by the playground and watch crouching silhouettes set them off over the cement slab. My dad thinks we’re too close. Maybe. My sister had a blackened sphere the size of a pea hit her on the head once. An unexploded star. She says she felt it. Just a little tap. I don’t know. Maybe we are too close.
It’s raining. Really raining. There’s an inch of standing water in the parking lot. The gutters are swollen to overflowing. When a car passes, pedestrians standing too close to the edge of the sidewalk are doused by a spray of water as big as the splash at the end of any big theme park water ride. Torrents of water slide down the car windows while the windshield wipers flap furiously, squeaking from exertion.
Stopped at an intersection, waiting for a green light, I look out the window. There on the sidewalk where pedestrians stand, waiting to cross the street, I see something on the pavement. Two somethings.
Two sneakers, sitting in the rain. There is no one in sight to claim them. They are alone. Waiting. Waiting for what I wonder?
The light changes. I see a blur of green though the rain streaked windshield.
I leave the lonely sneakers. Though in my head I can still see them, waiting at the cross walk in the rain. Waiting for what? Waiting for who?
The view is ever shifting.
They scramble around,
a perpetual scene change.
A black grocery bag sails on the wind above it all.
Advertisements are on screens, not billboards.
They demand attention.
Subways shoot through tunnels,
moving people faster.
The ferry rocks,
riding the movement of the waves.
Water slaps the sides of boat.
Wind hurries past, slapping my ears.
Maybe I am unsteady from the ferry.
Maybe I am dizzy from the subway.
But when I stand still on the sidewalk,
it is not still.
bouncing ever so slightly.
The whole city is built on a trampoline.
A water bed.
A spring board.
The whole city cannot stay still.
The whole city moves.
Pink lemonade skies at dawn and dusk
Blocks of light that fall through windows at night and land on the grass outside
Crisp paper and smooth ink
Long hard hugs
Billions of nightlights plugged into the sky
People who see you
Words that mean something
The refrigerator is humming, harmonizing with the faint droning of a bee outside the window. The clock ticks sharply, keeping time.
I’m wasting it. It is so precious to me, yet I just sit and let it pass. I do nothing.
Someone walks into the room. They glance at the two small stacks of graham cracker fragments standing on the table beside me.
Don’t you dare touch my graham crackers.
There were two full crackers to begin with. I halfheartedly told myself I would eat a quarter of one every time I wrote… A page? A paragraph? A sentence?
The first cracker is gone and the page is still blank.
What remains on the table is one cracker broken into eight pieces, as if for a small child. I am acting childish, aren’t I? Just like when you’re told to clean your room and you go stand int he doorway and stare at the mess in bitter despair and think about how difficult it will be and wonder where to begin.
But what matters isn’t where you begin. It’s just beginning.
I am too old now to be told to clean my room. I am old enough to know that just beginning is the important part. But no matter how much I remind myself of it, I still waste precious hours staring at my mess of ink and paper and wonder where I ought to begin.
I go to sleep when it gets dark. Like a normal person. But I’ve always hated it. I get claustrophobic watching the light go, knowing there is no way I can stop it. Darkness creeps up under my skin and I can already feel the nightmares writhing in my chest, just waiting for me to sleep and let them loose. So I’ve been thinking I should try being nocturnal for a change. Maybe going to sleep when it’s light out wouldn’t make me panic so much. Of course that would mean waking in the dark. Which might be even worse.