Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Words Into the Night

We don't have to speak for our intentions to be read.

Speech seems like a simple thing, a coordination of muscle and bone, nerves and tongue, something within us,  just as the ability to control and guide both weapon and machine lay slumbering within the wrists and hands.  We can stay silent but the words are still there.

Man experiences things of great magnitude and can not speak of them at all.  An artist or craftsman, creates something that was part of themselves, honed into art or machine. On completion,  they say no words, they call no one, they simply put down their tool, their brush, and stare at their vision, incarnate.
Veterans come home from battle empty of all words, bound together by only that identical experience which they can never forget and dare not speak of, lest by speaking of darkness they are wrapped in its chains.  First responders and LEO's, who have seen so much death that never again, as long as they breathe, will they ever truly go to asleep alone.

Man experiences the mundane, the meaningless, tweeting and texting of it feverishly.  It is as if, by doing so, inconsequential acts become more than the passing of time by the imminently bored. The words sting the screen like so many insects, their incessant noise, dimming to a hum.

We speak in different languages, and even when speaking the same language, we often don't communicate, and when we do, we often don't truly mean what we say. Promises can be nothing more than words and oaths empty air, especially when election times  near, wherein contests of fierce and empty oratory are somehow, retroactively, supposed to make us believe, any more than they can make us forget.
We speak in the language of the past, chants unchanged in generations hanging in the air as God is placed into a golden cup, there underneath the eyes of angels. We speak in the language of silent prayer, calling upon neither God nor Saint, fingering invisible beads, as we put on a respirator and enter hell.

Words can support, they can heal, with gentle utterance after a nightmare in the still of the night, the soothing voice that smooths the frayed edges of a day with nothing more than the touch of supple prose.  Words can injure, cutting like a knife,  discharging like a spark of electricity, those words, from someone we love, marking us always with their wounding. 
Words, a movement of lips and tongue, that can cause laughter or pain, that can divide or conquer. Even in a nation where English is the official language, in parts of our country, there are whole neighborhoods where you won't hear it spoken.

Yet, sometimes one doesn't need to speak at all.

On any given day, tragedy and the earth collide, flood, tornado, the plunging of a mighty machine into a peaceful neighborhood.  The details differ, but the response is always the same. When disaster strikes, the land itself turns mute and those that remain, stand simply as silent instruments unable to make a sound.

A middle aged woman, all alone, standing in front of what remains of her house of 20 years, nothing, left, not even a photo of her failed dreams, left where the water rushed through.  She cries, silently and wet, in the faded robe she fled in, as a neighbor comes over and puts his arms around her.
A young woman, her face growing older by the minute, stumbles from the wreckage that still smolders, a solitary figure, clutching only a doll, making a path towards what is only unknown.

An elderly couple,  looking at the work of their sweat and tears strewn about for miles by the force of nature, the wind thick and warm, like blood spilled, pooling around what little remains. A lone tree stands, its nervous branches bent down as if hoping not to be noticed.

The first responders arrive, standing for just a moment, still and mute, hands unmoving beneath the invisible stain of what is, always, needless blood. For just a moment they stop, as if by whispered breath or the movement of disturbed air, what little remains, would crumble.
They gather, moving in and around, the firefighters, EMS, LEO's, wearing blue and black and yellow. Such garments, solemnly worn, exchanged for lives that used to be ordinary, worn as they shape something from chaos, coercing that terrible blood wind to give up a sound, the forlorn echo of someone who might have survived underneath the carnage.

It's surprising how much noise is there in the silence, of hope, of grief, of disbelief,. It is a sound which one can almost capture, but not quite,  receding like dwindling song, until there is only the dark and the quiet.  And then a small voice. . . "help me", low and faint as the vespers of sleep.

Survivors and saviors, moving without sound, yet sending a message as loudly to the heavens as if they were one voice. People are helped from the rubble, the injured accessed, the dying comforted as best as one can, if only by a touch that resonates straight to the heart, bypassing a brain that can not accept its fate. There are no teleprompters, there are no cue cards, there are no words for boundless grief and regret. There is no language for this, no word, no sound, it's defiant and imminent life, holding on.

That simple act, speaks volumes.