Thursday, February 17, 2011

Speak Up

What is it that drives me not to speak, to hold back the naming of my desires? Whose role am I playing? When did I pick up a script, when did I memorize these lines so thoroughly that, speaking them, I don't even realize I didn't write them myself, am not making them up on the spot? Speaking them: there are the things I say, and the things I don't say, and the things I don't even realize I'm not saying.

I hold back out of fear, but what am I afraid of? Is it you I fear, your judgment, condemnation? I remember: past reactions, upsetting you without intending to, the delicate work of smoothing things back over, finding out where we diverged. So much retracing of paths, such wanderings in the woods.

Or is it my desires themselves I fear? They grow out of my own self, yet when they are born, I am reluctant to acknowledge them. Sometimes I disown them, like children whom my tendrils of communication cannot reach. "Never come home again," I tell them. Yet they lurk just outside on the sidewalk, and their faces haunt me.

Then I blame you for not asking me, when the truth is, you've asked and asked, and I have refused to speak. The truth sticks in my throat, it catches in my teeth. I am afraid to let it out so it flaps and flutters in my mouth. A few feathers fly from my lips. If I just open my mouth, it will burst forth and escape, and then who knows what it will do? I'll never catch it again. If it flies at our faces, if it attacks our eyes, what will we do? I will cower in a corner, I will hide under a table.

To speak is to be alive, to be a person. It's so much safer to be a statue--silent marble, gracious and inoffensive. But it is so cold. O Lord, teach me to be human.

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