Five Examinations of Joy
My mother’s hands,
they smelled vaguely of bleach when I was young. At night I’d reach for her in the dark, take her hand and lightly pull on skin over her knuckles. How the act of examination seemed to comfort me. I knew she did so much. She worked. She cleaned. She kept me full. Zoetic and pliant hands, they could do everything. I’d rest my ear in the palm. Close my eyes and breathe in. Fall asleep and breathe out. Comfort became breaths in synchronous drags of air, sweeping up the dusk with exhaling sighs.
You hated the music I liked to listen.
And I tolerated yours. Sometimes we danced in the kitchen after finishing a bottle of red. We don’t even find pleasure in the same melodies, how could we expect to match steps? Yet there we were torsos touching, hands on waist, and on shoulder, held together. We halfheartedly sway to a compromise. And I think I don’t feel you in this music, in this space. Touch is merely a nearing of electric fields. The collection of atoms we are never actually touch. Matter hovers against matter against matter and so forth, repelling. That’s how we existed. At a limit. Saved from the real possibility we could fall into everything and each other, collapse oneself and be catastrophically nothing. I’m more myself dancing alone.
I admire the quick comebacks.
The recollection of an awkward moment, the playful tease, and a sarcastic dish when it’s least expected. I like guffaws that sound like swelling bass sections, and chuckles filled to the brim that they threaten to spill into snorts. I especially like how my daughter and I often catch each other’s glance to find a funny face. We laugh and laugh ourselves tired over nothing, robbing the diaphragm of its harmony to spoil the cochlea.
Even when I’m listening,
I have a habit of responding with “huh?”
I like how you talk about the things that matter to you. I like how you tell a story, how you take a deep breath as you search for the right words. As if synonyms float with the dust caught in sunlight and it’s best to take it all in. Your voice sounds like the trinkets shifting lightly in a tin box. You wrap your lips around vowels like a gold setting around a jewel. And play with conjunctions like a string of pearls between your fingers. My trove of shining, precious things, you point out to me when I go to long without smiling.
My uncles entertained themselves with my cousins and me, by giving our clumsy American tongues a lesson in the curious undulation of Mexican linguistics. We were amused by this game. They’d throw words at us like:
and just for kicks: bombón.
These words sounded like drum beats and foot stomps and my mouth could only produce a cheap recording. Parangaricutirimicuaro is an orchestrated fiasco in which I watched every syllable thrown at me just shy of my grasp. The others were a skill needing time to master, I heard them like carving tools against wood and stone. But bombón. The subtle difference in Om and On was on a delicate frequency I failed to pick up.
NaPoWriMo – “our (optional) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. The most famous poem of this type is probably Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. You don’t need to have thirteen ways of looking at something – just a few will do!”
Poetics Aside – “For today’s prompt, write a poem about a sound. The poem could be about a small sound, a loud sound, a happy sound, or a creepy sound. And yes, music sounds count as well.”