Bone Socket Dialects
The darkness is bilingual. It mouths flawless exits, our bodiless waltz moving, as on a conveyer belt, toward the door of an empty house. In the voice of a dream, worry sands syllables from tooth to nerve: Will I see you again before I die? A submarine hum softening distance, your grandmother’s question.
Follow it inside the gate. Where rust bleeds from a keyhole, two skeletons grout laughter between bricks in the garden wall; where birds of paradise wire night’s jaws with nothing but orange, fear sends
a cat to the corner of a disappearing oak. If the crows continue to scale the barbed-wire fence, they
will get to where? Knowledge of night is a feeling not even a lifetime can master. Yet we still move forward and the wingless mountain still crows useless confessions and the town still trees us not with bloodhounds or ghosts but with subjectivity—how rain could sound like hunger, how truth muted
memory. Climb down and try to explain this to the person you love. Where children begged with Bibles and knives, a staggering stranger walked as slow as rivers run dry, broken bottle in hand, body carrying bruised skin, cracked lips damming blood. Remember the lines worming grief and rage across her
forehead. Between helping and running, we opted for forgetting. Turned the key and hurried inside. To return to that home we would have to skin the detachment that no longer grows on us, un-imagine the contents within the damp paper towel sent home for my five-year-old hands to open. What was
real is real sometimes. Now the dissection I once unwrapped as I would a gift, finding an eye color of yellow teeth, drops repetitively from my hands, flowering into a scar again and again against the linoleum floor. Eyelids slam shut, and in the darkness of my mind a language houses the echoes of
a waltz, hollow of any syllables except the three in emptiness. In that bone-socket dialect, home clears its throat to call us back, and we will go someday to visit our laughing ghosts and your grandmother’s grave. The past, as you know, is the safest place to live since its nightmares have already been dreamt.
Tara Williams lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she seldom wins at bingo and is the weakest link on her trivia team. This is her second time in Spork.