I am trying to find a song from all this. The tidbits of news on NPR said a town is under siege in Syria. Somewhere a house is in mourning. Somewhere a baby peeks through his mother’s womb and wails at the sight of the coldness of the outside world. All the tangle of words in my ears, the dull thud of my heart, the ache in the shaft of the bones, are hinged together by ligaments and tendons, by the threads in my mind. Rub everything down, and you will find the whiteness of the moon inside you. The notes linger in the air, the room is dim one minute, dazzling the next, and I am trying to find a song in here, somewhere in here. Between the walls, behind the doors, at the corners of my eyes, something is lurking somewhere unseen, or I have some hope that it is. I just need to turn around quickly and catch it before it dissipates into the wind that blows across the plains.
The house had stood stoically against the tornadic wind the night before. This wind would go down south in the next few hours and killed six people in the next town. In the thick of the storm, the base of the house clung onto the concrete poured into earth years ago. Don’t let me go, it pleaded in the darkness, to the columns in the ground. Don’t let me fly. Not yet. Anchor me for a while, while they sleep upstairs, tucked warm in beds. Down there under the floorboards, the blind cat cried without feeling abashed. Oh how he cried with the wind, as it slapped against the sidings. The crescendo rose to the ceilings, rattling the attic, and floated up to the swirls of the atmosphere. His grief intertwined with the wind and together they lifted the shingles off the roof. Upstairs warm in bed, we slept dreaming of summer days, and of reality which remained elusive.
I thought I was going to die, the grandmother told her grandchild the other night while lying in the hospital bed. She told her grown grandchild who sat by her bed, who sat with her fingers clasped on her lap. Don’t let me go, the old lady’s eyes seemed to say. I thought I was going to die when they brought me here. I thought I was going to die.
The doctor had said the next 48 hours. At most, he had said. My grandmother grasped my hand, and smiled. I thought I was going to die, she said.
I wish you didn’t. I wish you didn’t. I wish you didn’t. I wish you didn’t have to go.
It was cancer in the stomach, they whisper in the hallway at work. The lady who works down the hall, in room 4455. There is cancer in her stomach. It has metastasized. Or is it cancer of the stomach? Did her stomach decide one day around Christmas, that it’s had enough. It was done being a stomach, churning out stomach acid, breaking down everything she had ever ingested, squeezing it down, separating what’s good and what’s not, absorbing what’s needed and rejecting what’s not. Did it decide on Christmas Eve, that it was done being a good stomach, a functioning stomach, and let the mutants go wild, plotting a coup d’état against the body? Did it let the rebels take over the palace, and decide it will cease to exist? She is forty-two, they whisper louder in the hallways. She has a ten-year old son, they moan by the water cooler.
The package arrived today. I saw it leaning against the front door, wrapped in his gallant red envelope, his overstuffed foreign belly seen protruding even from the driveway. I groaned inwardly. More gratitude to return. More heaviness to carry. More joy to swallow. All these attributions a gift brings with its arrival. I bent down to pick up the package, and saw the purple Hyacinths blooming around the concrete pad of the porch. Only yesterday, the ground was barren and brown, as if no life had ever walked here. Today, the buds pierce the bare limbs of the crab apple tree, and the green tips of the tulips poke out of the mulch ring at the base of the trees. Barely four inches tall , Hyacinths stare at me with their proud purple cone heads.
I wish they stay like this forever. This ground swelling with promises. The air cleaner than the day before. The day longer than the previous. The wind carries only a tinge of winter’s sadness. Picture perfect.
Because death is so full, and man so small. – Mumford & Sons