The Howl and The Whisper

Howling is a buried feat

epigenetic

leaking everywhere

Howling is done with the body

in terror

 a raging fear

imagine the reddened and purpling frame

a six-month-old baby left

naked on a hardwood floor

arching back

jerking tremors

piercing wail

flailing, throttling, choking at air

it will not stop

it is vulnerable.

Say the father rushes it

say he scoops it into his arms

whispers and cradles

The infant fits in the fathers’ large hands

held close to his cheek

ear-brushed lips

the father coos

infant trembling revolts

feeling its death

the father rocks it gently

kisses its skin

sniffing the child

while the infant howls.

He says “leave it to me.  Everything will be alright”

on repeat

says “I know we are vulnerable”

as the shuddering

comes to cease.

Let the infant howl

raise it up

bring it near

hold it close

that is all.

I, an infant’s father.

note:

I have had many incidents of late in which I howl at the dreaded prospect of losing my wife (to others, to distance, to death, to herself).  These have come out slantwise:  as anger or jealousy, criticism and challenge.  It is physiological.

A therapist recently suggested some alternate meanings.  When my body convulses in paranoia and terror, what might its messaging be?  Might it be saying that something or someone is terribly important to me, as significant as my own life and that I might well feel utterly helpless at that vulnerability?  He suggested that my body is indeed feeling real-life threat…and that the left side of my brain whooshes in hoping to rescue (“SuperMeaningMan”) to concoct a story to match, to account for the tremors and heartbeat and anxious breaths.  Things like: “I must not be good enough for her.  She must be cheating.  See how she dresses?  See how she is tired when she looks at me?  See how she keeps leaving the house?” and so on, or any number of scenarios…

When in possible fact I’m a flailing infant desperate for assurance and comfort, for a tender voice near.  Which made a world of sense.

He said:  supply it.

This is part of that work.

N Filbert

ALL MIXED UP

Mark Kozelek

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About N Filbert

"Arrange whatever pieces come your way" - Virginia Woolf "Thinking about language, while thinking IN language, leads to puzzles and paradoxes" -James Gleick "a word is a bridge thrown between myself and another...a territory shared" - V.N. Volosinov "How words are understood is not told by words alone" - Ludwig Wittgenstein View all posts by N Filbert

One response to “The Howl and The Whisper

"Authors frequently say things they are unaware of; only after they have gotten the reactions of their readers do they discover what they have said" - Umberto Eco

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