There is a language spoken within a family that no one outside speaks. It may sound familiar but listen carefully and learn otherwise. It is so with my brother even though there are thick walls between us and yet, in a few words intentions are obvious. He keeps me far from a place I’d just as soon not go and in her panic my mother hears only our words and not their hidden meaning. It is when we fall silent the conversation begins.
The perfect time of day occurs only as the dead of night approaches, that moment when the heart of the city falls almost silent.
In smaller cities this moment is protracted, arising as the moon reaches toward full expression and such as pass for tall buildings settle into sleep.
In the great cities, those that claim never to sleep, the city reverberates, echoing off the endless walls of glass, and silence never fully arrives, so we cling to moments that approximate what we imagine silence sounds like.
They leap from the walls, they are in your face as you approach. You don’t know what to expect and that is precisely how they wish it. Still, you don’t tire of them, and you don’t recoil, but stare more intently. They engage you, defy you and welcome in the same moment, and you only want to follow them deep within the cinder block, the plaster, and take up residence alongside them, and from afar, the mural artists smile.
The hardest prison to escape is the one whose walls are built by the mind in fear and trepidation. It is like the open gate you dare not enter fearing that you are leaving and will not be allowed to return. Atop a pole there are an infinite number of directions in which you can go and only one is straight down, but you fear selecting any, for gravity is a fear as great as death, yet you can feel neither. The prison of the mind is impregnable, for there fear and pain live in conflict and you are a small boat on an angry sea staring always at the roiling waves.
What is on the other side of this wall that is just too tall to peer over? No one seems to know, though many have surmised it is a completely different world looking little or nothing like the one we inhabit. Last week a young man picked up a ginkgo leaf and said “ahah, it is Japan across that wall,” but we mostly thought he was crazy. Once, when the world was flat, people knew if you sailed too far you would fall off. But the brave ones then always wondered what sort of world existed on the other side, was it desert or tropical jungle and when it was night here was it day there or did the sun simply sleep for ten hours? This morning a young man leaned a tall latter against the wall and slowly and carefully slipped over the top. We shouted after him, asking what it was like: did rainbows look the same, was grass green, but all we heard was his retreating footfalls, and his plaintive voice shouting: “Eve, are you here? I have the apple.”