The Impotence of Words

I’m feeling all post-moderny right now, as opposed to writerly as I was before.

I still have papers, papers, and more papers to do, and three weeks left in the semester before finals. Which is bad, bad. Because I feel post-moderny, and not at all writerly.

Mostly I’m feeling helpless.

This is the death of something older than I am.

This is me, sitting in class, listening to literary applications of the Kubler-Ross model for grieving, as it pertains to Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This is me, pretending to listen, trying to keep from bursting into tears while some girl presents her article on the stages of grief.

This is the sound of The Bear talking about “capping Massa So-and-So.”

That is the sound of my laughter, short and hollow. I think laughing at his vernacular is merely a habit now. Big, strawberry blond, line-backer, Irish man, talking about capping him some Massas.

That is the sound of paper rustling as Michael and I write notes back and forth. “Are you gonna be in class Wednesday? I might not be.” “How bout the writing center?”  “I don’t know.”

That is the sound of a silent smile, grateful, darted in her direction as we write about gay ex-boyfriends and raves and sociopaths and once-upon-a-times.

The kind of once upon a times that you remember with groans and “I can’t believe I ever’s.” Not the kind that’s dying now.

Not a happily ever after.

I know, in the back of my mind from some long-ago science class that energy is neither created nor destroyed: it is merely transformed.

But there is still a death in the cycle–a death, be it symbolic or physical that must be undergone before such energy is transformed.

This is the sound of me being helpless. Not knowing what to say. This is the sound of me, stripped of smirk, of satire and silliness. This is the sound of my screaming silence.

That was the sound of my giving up on what she’s losing. It happened months ago; it’s merely an echo now.

It’s a loud echo right now.

This is the sound my wedding ring made as it clinked down the toilet. Bounce, bounce, pink, clink. I like to think God put it there. Some volunteers found it there after the hurricane.

I like to think it’s a sign.

That is the sound of my futile effort to construct my own identity as I pore through slave narratives and try to determine how theirs were constructed.

It’s the sound of a grunt, the sound of keys on a keyboard, and the sound of a frustrated wail. It’s the sound of my forehead hitting the wall.

This is the sound of being afraid: of an unmedicated schizophrenic who wants to kill me, of failing at the only thing I’m good at, of not being a good enough friend.

That is the sound of my lighting a candle, of my murmuring a prayer.  The lighter and the flame and the whisper that is not quite words all blending into one action: sound and rhythm, like a noiseless song.

This is the sound of giving up on someone answering the phone. Maybe completely giving up. Maybe just for tonight.

It sounds a lot like my snoring.

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