Lullaby

In my possession is a cassette which holds the last trace of your voice, which I can never play again. As I move from city to city, I carry it along with my meager belongings. I am not sure it even plays anymore. All the while, the magnetic tape gathers dust and rapidly disintegrates.

There are tunes I can never listen to, words I can never recite. They exist only in the past, when they were sung in a sweet lullaby. Sometimes, my name is called out in a voice I will never hear again. There are fleeting, morning visions which seem unreal. We are walking by the river near the town I grew up in. A white crane pierces the dark clouds that loom overhead. The sky rumbles ominously. Green paddy fields sway in the distance as a breeze picks up. It is getting colder. You wrap your shawl a little tighter…  Our eyes meet. Let us go home now.

Even if I knew the precise meaning of every word in every language ever created, how should my voice reach you? My language is limited by words – fragile, misshapen building-blocks that crumble to dust as I plaster one next to another. Can I hurtle these blocks into space toward the ends of the universe? How many light-years would they have to travel like feeble waves to cross the threshold and touch you?

I lie in bed until the reminisces evaporate with the rising sun.

Tomorrow morning, I head out over the seas to that land, to that town, to that river. How shall I deal with the discovery that they are all there as I see them in my dreams, but that you are not? How shall I face the street signs, walls, and cabinets that lurk as reminders of the past? Why do they carry your presence like a worn cassette?

I hug my son tightly. It saddens me that you will never meet him.  He too loves water. The sound it makes. The way it moves.  He extends his hands and places them directly under the running tap and smiles.

He used to clench his tiny fists to try to grab the squelching flow. But slowly the little boy learned the futility of it all.

I must begin the process of uncurling each finger and letting it all flow through me.

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