Nuuuutthhhhiiiinnnnggg eeeehhhhveeeerrrr haaaassssss haaapeeeened. I pronounced each word with extreme intent. Longer, more thorough syllables than I had ever spoken, never had I focused on the journey of sounds, so subtle and overlooked. Like the beautiful mountain I can see looming over me outside my bedroom window, yet I never really see it. I don’t notice it because its always there, there’s no novelty in its large, booming form and its shrub covered face never seems to change, so close every day, its enormity escapes me. And these words, the thousands of words I speak every day, I have never before paid attention to their short lives…from beginning to end. They are born, cease, and then are born again, every time I wiggle my tongue and shape my lips.
Even now, as I can hardly speak, my voice taken by germs, I move my mouth in the shape of their expected form. Barely a whisper, Nuuuutthhhhiiiinnnnggg eeeehhhhveeeerrrr wiiiilllllll haaapeeeen. My soft pink tongue, barely used in the past couple of days, presses against the wet roof of my mouth, in the space right behind my top teeth. A deep breath moves inside my lungs as the almost imagined sound of the "ugghh" mounts and then, the finale, my tongue finds itself between the space of my upper and lower jaw, right below my front teeth, disturbing the outward flow of air and producing a subtle hissing sound. It all ends in the back of my throat, as the thickest part of my tongue reaches up and makes soft contact with the space at the back of my mouth. I feel it all…as long as I keep noticing, as long as the tenuous thread of my attention moves seamlessly though the center of each word.
With each second of claimed attention, the light between us shifts. Sometimes, a slight haze creeps between us, in the tangible space that only my attention can bring forth in this small house. To my amazement, my absent voice is not missed. Because of its absence, I have become clearer in intent and with this, there is a space for him to come. Like a slow moving spiral, each inflection and shift of my tongue brings him closer. His two dimensional picture emanates light from behind his head. Radiant yellow lifts his image off the page and, slowly, ever so slowly, it appears that we are here, together, face to face, eye to eye, in clear contact. And then, sometimes, he retreats…then, comes forward, like a game of catch, where the ball is my attention, and maybe his. Then…waves of violet blue, mostly hazy, but distinct clouds that spring from his face. Last night, his face became a bumpy, pebbled surface, so strange, so strong, I felt myself recoil.
In my mind, I hear the words. I think them, I feel them, I imagine their shape and implications. In my mind’s eye, I see blackness…a circle of blackness like an enormous pool filled with even darker water. Is he but a drop? Is he all of them? One? Do I speak to them all now? Is it all of them that rush to my words and attention, ready to meet me as far as my body will allow? I vaguely see their forms, shapeless and as colorful as ghosts, manifest in a reality I cannot remember. With colors and light, he is not he, he is more than one. He is something else, a drop of water spat back into the eternal ocean. A breath inhaled, then exhaled, sent into the atmosphere, into a realm of colors that my eyes can see only sometimes.
I am sitting, my ass pressed into a hard wooden chair, yet I am floating, tethered, yet somewhere above this little white body. But perhaps I am here, in this garage, without a body, without this tongue that still rolls in its attempt at syllables, and as I feel the shift, I focus on the words more intently. They are my map, my guide and my ropes.
I look at this picture, at a man that is my grandfather, yet never was. A man of my DNA, a being set adrift. And within his body, within the grandfather I never knew as a man, is a being that is me. A being that is you. In the middle of the night, he told me he was leaving. In the deep hours of darkness, he woke me from sleep with a punch to my heart and I knew, in the calm certainty of the half conscious, that he had left his body. While his machine began to decompose under a thick pile of dirt, the Being hovered around us. The space above the coffin became blurry and misty and clouded my vision and swirled like heat rays off of black pavement. I traveled to be close.
And when my mind wanders, as I read the prayer…as I perpetually criticize my current life and plan my next meal, I feel him drift from me. The light between us is nothing but the florescent hue from my continuously buzzing lamp. I am talking to a photo, a photo of a man who looks slightly insane, with bulging eyes, one slightly larger than the other.
And the moment I realize my fall, the second I begin to concentrate on the movement of my tongue, on the sounds of the words, on the meaning of the sentences and his eyes staring at mine, then the being reemerges. It comes back with the force of a strong wind, like a burst of colored light that waited for me to receive its return. It is there, for me. It is here, for me. Here…yet needing my attention. Here…yet invisible until I really look. Here…yet waiting for my heart to open. Here…needing the life of my breath. Here…as a gift. You meet me where I am. You are here when I am here, absent when my mind is elsewhere. While my armor was down, weakened by coughing fits and diseased lungs, we met. We met here. The same as always. Here.