Shrouds of Silence

The fog now completely obscured her shape and the wind muffled the sounds of her existence. I watched helplessly as she slowly disappeared, and I waited. For many years. 

As sudden as her dissolution was slow, her singing voice cut through the thick air, and the haze lifted. Bright as the sun that illuminated this transformation, was her face—eyes like stars, skin like a mirror, a smile that embraced the world.

She was free once more, and I could die. I no longer had to hold the fort for her.

As she stepped into the body in which I kept vigil, the things to which I had become accustomed were suddenly irksome. The skin turned to hide, the leaden chest and ashen head, the empty coffers of the imagination, the exhausted timbre of every thought… the boredom, the bitterness. Unbearable above all, were the shrouds of silence that envelop the spirit.

The voice that drops lower and lower, fading softly.
The words that catch in the throat.
The words that are scrambled before they can be written.
The thoughts that remain sentence fragments.
The sighs that settle like concrete in the gut.
The tears that are trapped with the sobs that are muted.
The song that changes from rhapsody to dirge, and then simply dies.
The note that catches and the tone that is tremulous.
The air that is now just a whisper.

Unexpressed. Incomplete.
Fighting, flailing, failing, spent.

As she steps into this body again, she caresses it, with bare and then lotioned hands. She disentangles the matted hair that marks both mourning and renunciation. Her glance repossesses the world, and her mind prepares a fresh inventory of dreams and desires. She raises her head. She lifts her voice. She sings.

And with her song, the fire destroys every last vestige of me, releasing me from my vigil over her life.

East Lansing, 4-6-01