Noise and light / by Christina Rosalie

I bump into things. I walk in a slant. The sky is overcast and moisture holds onto the air like something desperate and weak. I wake up and my days are smattered with sparks of conversation: I live with three boys, two of whom can talk, the third, almost, each day his words becoming clearer. And even without words, it doesn’t matter: they make themselves clear. They yell and grunt and sneeze and exhale air quickly and with irritation through their teeth. They grab things, push past each other, point, reach. Outside are flickers and crows, calling the way such birds call: abruptly and then silence, each instance of sound a purpose, a communication with the wet leaves and the semi dark and within it, the other feathered hearts of similar birds, their dark wings folded, claws holding damp branches.

If I listen, I can hear the apples falling, and my fingers moving like a hailstorm across the key pad, a clatter like water on a metal roof, and downstairs: “No, no, get down. What is it with you boys? That’s enough of you, go play with your toys!” And then there are pots that clatter and his words don’t last.

On the road there is traffic and I can hear it, a rumble, gravel crunching, the sound of someone driving away, and in my heart, blood pounding with everything: heat, love, regret, delight, irritation. In the apple tree a solitary urgent finch cheeps, cheeps, cheeps. Above the cloud cover in the quiet sky, there are jets crossing, trailing contrail and higher, satellites, without sound, no atmosphere to hold the rumble in, no small thing to contain the noise of their velocity traveling through the dark among the lighted memory of stars.

I linger where it’s quiet, reluctant to go downstairs to where the littlest is making a racket with wooden sword, the bigger one has some small toy he’s tinkering with, discovering what makes it’s lights flash in the dark. Then he counts his quarters, four by four until he gets to seven piles and he comes to tell me, I have seven dollars, a shadow at the doorway. A shadow, everything, bearing sound, until the light begins and spreads.