words & also silence
(with excerpts from Adrienne Rich’s “On Lies, Secrets, and Silence”)
to ventriloquize, to commemorate
(with excerpts from Steven Connor’s Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism)
A glove, or a wall, or a bruise.
Grief: a voice in transit or the space between transmission.
After the world has been atomized.
I ride voices, I ride public transit lines forgetting both your absence and a book to read. Make my memory the sleekness of a line. Make my memory a subject line: Flight confirmed. I’m not sure if you remember (more below). Whenever you are ready please…
I know smell impedes on my emotional topography, prodding the amygdala. Smell makes me a subject, too: history of former smells. Not reduction, but diffusion. Wind which acts upon the suit which acts upon the doorway. Any kindred scent is evidence of memory.
There is no escape from sound, which reaches us from everywhere and works upon us without pause.
The swimmer fits a clip across the nose, the sleeper dips a plug into the ear canal. I can’t swim but love to sleep apart from sound, whittling the styrofoam.
A voice is an event in time, something that happens to us, even happens on us.
Horoscopes say I take pleasure in reflection rather than the present. I danced limitlessly but honestly would rather think about the box steps from my bed.
If event, nothing major. If event, only family.
In dreams his voice is a reliable event like tax day or a book club. I am hosting the event: draping garlands, filling envelopes. I come from far and wide to hear the voice, driving lonely miles. Who is doing the voice? Me, of course, because it is my special memory.
To say that my voice comes from me is also to say that it departs from me.
I am kin-voice, daughter of the newly-dead. Voice’s split condition. I will step into the vacant suit of the ventriloquist.
Amplification, like the baby’s cry, always turns into a matter of reach, and therefore of limit.
Take your voice and make a monument. It feels infantile being so incapable! I’m too thirsty and my knees are scraped. In loving memory, I write a eulogy. (It isn’t you, it’s me.) Out of respect for the dead, I scream.
What the scream tears apart, it also holds together.
I microwaved(—)I Swiffered floors(—)I screamed(—)I bought a $30 magazine I wouldn’t read(—)I flew a stretch of lonely miles(—)you’re nowhere in the sky(—)I gave a tasteful speech(—) I wore the vacant suit(—)I took up many fucks(—)I dreamt your voice(—)I wrote abridged(—)I smelled the wind which rendered you a memory(—)I slept apart from sound(—)I take pleasure in reflection more than I take pleasure in a night of dancing(—)limitlessly(—)I will split myself and still be me(—)you’re nowhere in the split(—)I will dip the memory in my ear
Above all, the healthy voice possesses vitality.
What I cannot give: the spawning cell, the resurrected leaf. (—)
The voice is at once immaterial—it is energy and not substance—and full of the sense of the body’s presence (its warmth, elasticity, and sensitivity).
The voice is a scream. The voice is the space I can’t hold down. The suit is warm material inside the nasal cavity. I plug my nose with all your vacant suits, hangers ricocheting to the floor.
It’s good to give away old clothes and so it’s good to give away your voice. I fit your voice into an envelope and fix it to a washing line. Wind is a reliable event, transmitting space to other space. I can only give away what already belongs to me.
Atoms form the sleekness of a line: he is survived by a scream he is an event in time he departs from me.
Sarah Sgro is the author of the forthcoming full-length collection If The Future Is A Fetish (YesYes Books 2019) and the chapbook Without Them I Am Still A Mother (Letter [r] Press 2017). Sgro earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Mississippi and is pursuing her Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo, where she studies waste in relation to gender and futurity. Her work appears in BOAAT, Anomaly, Cosmonauts Avenue, DREGINALD, The Offing, and other journals.