Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Sounds Of Night

by Alegria Imperial

Day descends not without a sound. But out on open fields in my childhood in the Philippine archipelago, where on mountain peaks gods rule frozen in fury or goddesses lie splayed, breasts kissing sky, I imagine how twilight still creeps in as itself—soundless unless a rooster cracks the gray walling him in, tossing to the sky a last complaint: how long before dark deepens?

Here in Baltimore, on the flip side of the hemisphere, where I had strayed, no longer a child, but one among humans that huddle with trees rigged by asphalt or steel, day ending could be raucous. Warblers, for one, stir up groves—first with unease, but unlike me, tossing in gales of flesh, they with marrow-less lightness fritter on cypress twigs. Unlike me, who demands dourly quiet, as if by silence I could lure night its deathly silence, they spit out seeds of heart-to-heart chatter that snap in bits as tiny as their beaks before they curl to sleep.

A robin, for another, strains yet another song—broken chords escaping sore with daylong cries. Through folds of gray, his last notes pour into a dirge—he, at least, unabashed, declares: Darkness is empty without a mate. And miles away, an oriole breaks a line among the pines, wheezing up a note in leaping variations, and then fades out in both song and feathers to re-compose and re-tint the morning.

But for me, night signals itself as: a whistle then iron and steel grating at each other, a roar underbelly and a scream underfoot then a thud, a sigh underseat and a brief calm embrace in a concave roof of steel. A click as a latch soon loosens, too, a creak on a door hinge but more like a whine—why now after absolute peace should it turn?—and then, a jingle of keys that stirs up things left motionless as in a frieze during the day. A chatter among moving busts encased in a box soon guides my day in its descent as I, dying to erase what I long to hear bury these in sounds I do not mean to hear.

Alegria Imperial lets the words find her wherever she happens to be.

Fourteenth Flash

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