The Voice

I don’t remember when she first appeared, but early in life she entered my head and began to speak:

Breathe through your soles and enter the majestic palace of your embodiment. Cast down the bridge—there are spaces so vast they must be walked over rather than through.

What talks like that? And what kind of wisdom was she offering? I wanted to play with Skeletor and He-Man. My mother said an angel or God might be talking to me, but the words were unlike any scripture that I had ever read.

Who runs the corner stand of your world? Tell them it’s time to restock hope and avocados.

When I began grade school, no one liked my white turtleneck with purple stripes that my mother had picked out for me. I tried to fit in. Despite not caring about baseball, I talked about Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry. I pegged my jeans and wore Air Jordans. I carried Skittles in my pocket that I could offer to other kids. It did little good, and I began not to mind the voice’s intrusions.

If I was confused or lonely she would appear like a late-night lover arriving through an open window. I’d tell her none of the girls at school seemed to like me. The person who said that women love bad boys wasn’t a woman. I’d say none of the boys want to be my friend. Remove your accessories and shout to the god of your liking. I’d say I don’t even know what love means. In the leafless bush outside your window, two cardinals flit from branch to branch, touching feathers.

By middle school I was used to her presence, as if she’d rented a small cottage with a fireplace in some far outpost of my forebrain and occasionally invited me over for tea and conversation. She’d see a student’s belly protruding from beneath their shirt and whisper summer drought. In the hallway, she’d hear a teacher berating a student’s behavior and say kite string snapped in autumn wind. I did not always understand her messages. Sometimes during a test I’d ask her the answer to a quadratic equation. Sharp-skinned rattlers wrangle the tide. The definition of barometric pressure? A dove’s silent saunter through the twice-baked air.

Even if I didn’t understand her, by that time I was simply happy someone was taking an interest in me. I complained that my English teacher said my writing was too abstract. Hold the c-shaped handle of this lantern in the crease of your curled fingers, she said. We’ll go sit on the thick branch of a white sycamore under a sky filled with sparkling gems. We’ll figure this out.

Kyle D. Craig lives in Indianapolis with his wife, daughter, and an orange cat named Jasper. His poems have appeared in Barnstorm Journal, Blue Earth Review, The Louisville Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Sou’wester, Tar River Poetry, and others. His book of haiku and haibun, entitled “Invisible Tea” (Red Moon Press, 2016), was awarded a Haiku Society of America merit book award. 

Next Page (Alyssa Chase)

Previous Page (Nancy Botkin)