This essay appears in our 2014 Summer Digital Issue. Download now to read the rest of Therese’s story and the entire issue.
I WANT TO TELL YOU OF A DAY NOT LONG AGO – it was late morning, actually — when I spent an hour releasing you from my limbs; and that I had help in this matter and that this matter was hard. I was bare. Just lying on a massage table with a sheet draped over; it covered my shoulders down to the toes. Every part of me was quiet; the legs, the arms limp at my sides. Only my mind was active, aware of the music sensing its calm. I did not know the flutist and had no names for the wild birds I heard, but the music was of those two main sounds: different bird calls, a flute that could lure the hardest stories from a person, similar to a snake being charmed. Like a serpent uncoiling out of a vessel, unraveling without resistance, into the very air we breathe.
There was music playing, as I said. It was soft. The room was square, rather small. I noted the walls’ complexion as being similar to the sacred ground of New Mexico, or of any place out West where the land continues, untouched. For miles, just vast stretches of this reddish-orange, seamlessly endless. It was like that in the room, its color felt penetrable, expansive as the ochre earth.
A table stood where two walls met. Upon it, a lamp with a shade. Its light shone like a dim sun. The bulb, a little sun wrapped in a gauzy haze. A fountain was also upon that very table. The kind you plug in and water is then cycled through and through. Trickles down miniature slabs of grey slate made to look like the larger, natural formations I have seen in active brooks, where water cascades nonstop, is falling always from stone to stone, rushing from tier to tier to tier. Something about the sound of the fountain along with the music of the flute and the birds – that relaxed me enough to where I could tune in to my inner thoughts. There were several beneath layers of skin. Many were of you, my father, in a place inside, a clandestine world. You, with my uncle and aunt. There were thirty years to be exact.
There is an art to memory-making. When a person calls forth stories, maybe it is wisdom that determines what gets revealed or concealed. Something other than intellect that knows what should never flush up, a protective device that determines what is best kept in the unconscious versus parts to be made aware, and if so, just how. How to edit, to surface it safe…
THERÉSE HALSCHEID is the author of Frozen Latitudes which received the Eric Hoffer Book Award, Honorable Mention for Poetry. previous poetry collections include Powertalk, Without Home, Uncommon Geography, which won a finalist award for the Paterson Poetry Book Prize; and Greatest Hits, a chapbook award from Pudding House Publications. Her poetry, essays and short stories have appeared in magazines such as The Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review, Sou’wester, Tiferet, among others. She has received Fellowships from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and NJ State Council on the Arts.
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