Small Voices

This is a reserve I discovered with Zoe a couple of days ago. I took washing down to the laundromat and went exploring with her while we waited for it. There were a couple of ovals with guys playing soccer or practicing their skills. It was dark and wet, we walked in the shadows at the edges of all these strangers lives, the houses with curtains pulled shut and glowing, gardens looming under streetlights, children’s toys left discarded in the yards. A possum ran across our path, from one tree to another. It’s another world, for me. Not just my neighbourhood at night, but a different place entirely. Different parts of me come out, different rules apply. The trees breathe, the moonlight sings on my skin. This is a place I knew intimately as a child, the world outside my window, behind the glass. The place the rain fell and the night had a scent like rain and earth and lilies.

This morning I wake thoughtful from strange and portentous dreams. I feel, deep inside, that call from my deeps, to find somewhere shadowed today, to find a different world and stretch my wings within it even if only for a moment. And also as I wake, returns to me the memory of lists, of things that must be done, to support my life. There’s a rickety complex of things that hold up my life, that stop me falling into destitution. A number of tasks that keep my world going, bills that need paying, food to prepare, arrangements for college and health and friends. So many needs.

The pull towards the shadows is a small one. One voice among many. Not the loudest or sharpest. Just a pull, a need, a drawing of my heart. It is the voice of my soul.

This morning it occurs to me that most of the voices get louder as the need grows stronger. I cannot do everything I have set out to do. Trying to keep house and make art and study and work, to connect with friends and care for my pets and look after my garden and keep my house. I constantly leave things undone, important things, like tax paperwork, like emails from friends I care deeply about, little things that cost me like books that must go back to the library like the need to buy more cat food or save for car repairs.

Most of the voices get louder as the need gets stronger. I don’t think the voice of my soul is like that. I think it gets softer as it gets weaker.

Constantly neglected and ignored, it fades. I wake restless less mornings. I stop hearing it. I forget about it. I get sicker. My heart feels old and dusty without moonlight to renew it. My candles lie disused. There is no pull in me towards shadows or poetry or other worlds. I stay in my little box, mouse in a wheel, running and running. I forget my name, my names, my other names that live in other worlds and drink the night and are renewed. I feel lost and empty and cannot remember why. When all falls silent in despair, there is no voice left for me to follow.

Maybe this one needs to be more sacred than the rest. Maybe instead you tune your ear to it, to the needs of it, the little pull inside, drawing you out of boxes, of lives, of worlds, and into a different place. Maybe each time you listen it becomes stronger, easier to hear, easier to follow. I remember that it was for me, that I would wake with the need to climb a tree, or find water, or with the song of a particular poem vibrating in my heart. I would stand in graveyards and cry, would creep towards ink and paint like they were blood and I’d been bled almost dry. I remember it being strong, and easy, a shining thread that led me out of labyrinths of other people’s makings, out of nightmare homes and schools that were like being trapped in someone else’s dark dreams.

I spend too long in the normal world, learning that language, speaking those words, playing those roles, responding to those names. I am becoming good at it, better than I was. I am learning to find places I fit better. But still I need to step away, to cross the glass and follow a different song. To be torn in two. Dual citizenship. To tune my ear to that small voice of longing and find strength and resolve to follow it sometimes, out of the day, out of my world, my name, my roles, and into the shadows, the other places, where I can eat the food, where I can breathe, where all the world speaks poetry. The light and dark of the moon. Where I find wholeness, self, possibly even god.

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