When I wake up three days later, somewhere between Schnucks and Burger King, parked in my space ten spaces down from the AutoZone in the jagged parking lot of a dying strip mall and across the street from a retirement home, I take a deep breath and listen to her scream. It isn’t the same every day, for she isn’t a creature of habit, like me. She has no set pattern.
I collected screams in little glass jars, before I lost my walking stick and they all broke. Before I found my habits. They came in all shapes and sizes; some old medicine containers, others opaque and smooth or chipped. Some were old Coke bottles, and others were emptied cologne or perfume containers, still scented. They lined my room on little wood ledges. The first friday of every February, I’d clean them with spiky things used to clean gun barrels. Before Ash Wednesday. Before His death sings celebrated.
I don’t need to collect them, anymore. I know where they come from.
Her screams encompass a range of humanity beyond the scope of sound. The scientists talk about subtonal and supertonal frequencies, of carpets of noise only dogs or hummingbirds or dolphins can hear. Her screams layer like that: beneath the sound, there is a deeper silence. And beneath that silence, a deeper sound. The sound of hope. The sound of promises kept. The sound of the exultation of expectation.
Some scream in agony, like when in panic or over the dead. It is a wail sent to both heaven and hell, imploring, pleading, a desperation. Others scream in pleasure, throat wide and undulating and expulsive and sometimes, sometimes, very quiet and pleading. Others scream for attention, connection, as if the whole world ignores them against their will, or their will deserves more sound. Still others, a few others, scream in laughter, humor, an expletive spent in chopping syllables: ah hah hahah.
I can’t say, “some days she is this,” because she is all things every day. I can’t say, “she is happy today,” because she screams in rage and harmony, sometimes in the same breath. She is a beautiful thing. A queen of no-one. A lustful force. She is nu Hekate. She is divinely profane. Her voice never goes hoarse. Her throat creates symphonies inside my head.
Some days when I wake up, when I, when I, (love her but have never seen her)
When I wake up I hear drums beating, her throat clicking against her tongue, and I find my heart beats to her trill, open thought.
I am a creature of habit, and find promises die quickly when untended. Like a cactus: people say a cactus doesn’t need much water, but buy one and you’ll know how hard it is to grow. Sun, water–but not too much–and love. She tends to her promise, some forgotten thing from a thousand, two, ten thousand years ago. She uses the only instrument she knows. The sunlight, her attention. The water, her throat.
At the end, the end of the day, I give the bagel to the homeless man collecting beer cans for money. He tips his hat and brushes his mustache once.
Some day, when she has finished screaming, it will be communion between us.
All of us.