The Tour Guide
Help, I said help I said. Help, retreating. To the historical replica mercantile vessel. My body does things that I hate, like, accept. Other. Objects. The sails of which are unexposed, masts axed, plugged into the dock with a long, dirty, yellow cord.
What else is you listen to me through the slap of the harbor on the hull. What else is repainted forest. Green. When I seamed the sails I was Appalachian. Unaccepted. Gratuities. For the tour guide, this is a cage. This a rope and a bed built into the wall in the cabin.
This is where the fish go. And the sugar. This harbor town inviting, us we seal our shutters against the heat. The boat follows me home on a string, floating, sluggish, asleep through the alleys. You taught me to know everyone I. Talk to. But the years tickertape, and I don't. I tie my replica, loosely, to you.
Standing, back to harbor wind, weather-beaten pastel teacups and carousel rattle across the waterway when I'm not sure I'm hearing music, or cloud, or what I'm hearing's music, phantom sound becomes my expectations for a moment, drifts back out into white noise, red metal, air, is composed, then is not. Recognition accompanied by brief disappointment, then turned away from. How to go about a life inside, perpetual discordant electronic hum. Unless in expectation resides the only music I can love, how to love what one cannot expect, how to create a space to trap, enclose whatever approaches, omni-capable receptors, mutation damned or made obsolete, made into buzzing structural unease or leaf caught in radiator, whirring. Recognition ushers in both love and distraction, and isn't that the point, the place moved toward across the event horizon. What is unrecognizable, in becoming recognized, gains status but also form, an expected form, for future love, for time run backward. For remembering how in advance. And for this, keeping secrets close, even those that would only provide solace, and for this keeping love on the edge of recognition. Is it music, a sound at all.
Thea Brown is the author of the full-length collection "Think of the Danger" (H_NGM_N, 2016) and the chapbook "We Are Fantastic" (Petri Press, 2013). She lives in Mt. Vernon and will be the 2016-2017 Tickner Fellow at the Gilman School.