“It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves.”
– Toni Morrison, Beloved
“Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.”
– Robert Herrick, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”
The curious thing about being silent was how loud everything around you became. The deafening buzz of insects, too varied and numerous to identify. Squawks of fowl- parrot above all others- oddly enough. Distant engines. Evidence of lives being lived.
Smells were heightened as well. The earth here, when damp, smelled of grass, lemons, and a touch of rot. When dry, like sandalwood and heated metals.
Everything moved in perfect, if not repetitive, cycles. Dew, like pearls of citrus, gathered on every blade of grass each morning. The ants could be counted on for late afternoon toiling, carrying the day’s findings back to the small crack in the concrete siding. Glistening black serpents skated along the house’s perimeter each evening.
The mailwoman came in the early afternoon when the sun was over the rosebush, illuminating it with a blinding halo. She often looked directly at me, at us, and smiled. I’ve tried to get her attention, this archaic keeper and relayer of words. But I have none to give.
I am beautiful. I am silent.