music is jewels
hung in sky between my eyes
water laps my feet

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Inside the Pauses of Ordinary Conversations

When ordinary people talk
We talk in poetry
With long pauses between the lines

Long pauses
Pauses long, and longer
So that all the other information
Has a chance to sink in

When ordinary people talk
We talk in stories
Not in academic analysis

“This is what happened the other day
To my wife’s sister Molly
At the Walmart —
You know Molly
She can’t do the sound of the cash register
.
.
And every register going off at once!
And she was plugging her ears
And crouching low to the ground
And people were staring
You know how it goes”

And another long pause
.
.
.
.
.
Filled by rolled eyes
And barely controlled anger

But mostly
Just a pause
.
.
.
.
Where everybody speaks their piece
Without saying a word

And only after that long pause
This long pause
Here
.
.
.
Only then can the conversation move on

Most of the conversation takes place
Inside the pauses
Where people have time
To think and feel

It’s not a wall of words
Nobody has to say out loud
What we know everyone is thinking

Nobody has to explain
How mortified Molly was
To have a meltdown in the Walmart

Nobody has to analyze
The ableism in people’s stares

Nobody has to explain
Why they are so angry
That this one part of the world
Has to be so hard

“Molly went home and
She couldn’t stop throwing up
She stayed in her room all day
And came out pale, sweaty, and shaking.
At least she had her cat
That cat never left her side.”

Another long pause:
Nods of sympathy
Head shakes of disgust
Eyes rolling at the world at large
Grunts like “uh-huuuuuh”
More tone than verbalization

Like Molly, I am autistic
I have learned the rules of conversation
Only with the greatest effort
That people don’t always like when you
Act like a bulldozer full of words

But it has been worth the learning
Because the bulldozer full of words
Split my brain at the seams
And wore me out before it wore anyone else out

The pauses give my brain room to breathe
Being quiet lets me listen
To the music of their speech
The pauses let me watch
The dance of their bodies
Not one by one
But as a group
Each movement
Reflecting off the movements of another

The music and dance
Are my private view on the world
They let me see things
Others don’t see
Understand things
I could never explain
But the music in their speech
And the dance that hangs in the air
Between their bodies
Tell me everything I need to know
And more

So I have learned that
When ordinary people talk
They talk in poetry and stories
And their hands and eyes dance
To a song of emotion that can only be heard
In the pauses

I may be autistic
I may hear the pauses differently
But I still hear the music
I still see the dance
Even if it’s not quite the same
Music and dance
Everyone else sees

Either way, I know
The rhythms and the tones
The movements and the stillness
That only show up in the silence
I may miss the words entirely
But I don’t miss the music or the dance

And those silent pauses
.
.
Filled with music filled with dance
.
.
.
Are the most important
.
.
.
.
.
Part

.

.

.

.

.

.

Curl up, curl up so tight

Curl up, curl up so tight
Curl up so tight, that you curl in the night
And the night curls down inside you
Like an owl wrapping her wings around herself
Eyes wide open and ready to fly

Curl up, curl up so tight
Curl up so tight that you curl in the earth
And the soil fills your body
Like mycelium spreading itself through you
Waiting to release its spores

And the spores release and the owl flies
And you remain curled up so tight
Your eyes squeezed shut against the night
That when the light turns your way
It takes you by surprise

I curl up, and I hand myself to you
Because you’ll know what to do
You know what marona is
You’ll know when to hold me
On the palm of your hand
You’ll know when to set me down
Carefully so I don’t break

You’ll know when you hear the owl
And smell the soil
And hear the silent music
That I’m here with you too

If I could reach through the computer screen…

lapis lazuli ball

I want to hand you a lapis lazuli ball
So you can lose yourself in the deep blue
And be dazzled by the gold specks.
I want you to roll it over and over in your hand
Gently nose it to feel its texture
And weigh it in your hand.

black tourmaline egg

I want to hand you my black tourmaline egg
So you can feel that unique texture
I want you to hold it while you sleep
And wake up to it, warm and slick in your hand

amber ring

I want to hand you my amber ring
So you can watch the sunlight turn it into fire
And watch the sun set inside it glittering red, orange, and yellow

I want to do these things
So that I can say
We share these sensory experiences
And nothing can take that away

I want to hand things back and forth
And clack them together to hear their sounds
And rub them on our cheeks
And brush them against our fingertips

Then I want to hand you things too big to pick up:

The warmth and smell of a granite mountainside as the sun heats it up all day long.

The liquid sunlight melting across the coat of a cat who embodies sunlight well.

The whole cycle of life that takes place in the soil of a redwood forest.  And the smell of that soil.

The deep rumbling sound of the Mother Tree when you’re curled up against it, surrounded by its invisible amethyst glow.

The feeling of lying in bed, but at the same time, being surrounded by a deep, glowing blue sky, as if pre-dawn or post-dusk. And listening to the music of the forest.  Listening with my skin, listening with my eyes, listening with my fingertips, listening with my nose.  Listening with everything more than my ears.  Being wrapped in the song of the forest and the stars and the trees and the soil and the fungus, all singing, all singing inside me.

I know you can feel the layers of sensory experience.  The layers of meaning that come before the meaning of mind.  The things we were meant to forget, when we learned to think their way.  The things we didn’t forget, the things that we retained no matter what we were told to forget.  The stillness, the silence.  The music in the silence, the growth and death and birth cycling endlessly.

I would hand you these things, if I could reach through a computer screen.  And I would take whatever you handed back, and listen to it sing its unique song.  And we could communicate the way we are meant to communicate.  By what came before thought, by what came before sight and sound, touch and smell, by the resonance in what came before.