Monday, May 4, 2020

Stop Time: Living at my Childhood Home in Northern CA During the Pandemic (Dunkle)

The first week of shelter in place, my mind felt swollen with time.  As if I was fourteen again, stuck on this land so far from town without car, or the ability to walk to a 7-11, or even the escape of TV. It was a time that threatened to swallow me up in its deafening silence.  As if the world were wrapped in cotton.  My self was my only companion.  The only movement was the swallows looping in air, the wind rustling the leaves of bay trees. My mind felt jarred. As in canned and shelved, like a scientific specimen pinned by limbs into a diorama whose top had been sealed.  My only dream was to escape to a city where noise covered everything, where sidewalks were freckled with gum and every corner held the open door of  a bodega.  Their polished fruit stacked into pyramids of desire.

To be back here, now, stuck, sheltering in the place that once swallowed my teenage self in a blur of self-doubt made it all come back: my bones felt like cardboard, my blood like lead. I felt alone even though I was surrounded by my partner and my two teenage boys.  My memories seeped up like a forgotten underground spring. Stories drifted back, dusty and full of holes.  You should have never done this; you should have never done that.  But this time when I held them up to the light I could see through them to the truth.  I smiled back at that young girl, so unsure of herself, because I know and love her now.  

On the other side of this, when time quickens, and we fall tumbling back into the churn of our lives, I don’t want to forget the loneliness I once had.  The unsteady gait of not knowing how to be a girl in a world that was stacked against me.  And each day I will take time to hear her whisper back to me through the wind in the bay leaves.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle's Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer is forthcoming from the University of Oklahoma Press. Her poetry collection West : Fire : Archive is forthcoming from Mountain/ West Poetry Series. Previous books include Interrupted Geographies, Gold Passage, and There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air.

No comments:

Post a Comment