Folio · 2017

Hush Babble

Sara Lentsch

Certain people give me a stutter.

When I was little I had to go to speech therapy

because I liked to switch all my letters around. My dad’s co-workers

still tease me about wanting to go see “da pishes in da tond”.

But therapy worked wonders and soon I talked

so much I could use all the air in the room

if I wasn’t careful. “You talk too much, too loud, too something,”

Renee always said. I’m pretty sure older sisters come

with a default setting of being annoyed no matter what. I remember

reading about an ancient people who tried to reach heaven with a tower

instead of grace. Obviously they weren’t far off if God cursed them as

they got too close to touching the sky. And what a curse it was!

Some time ago I learned that most my thoughts are spoken

to No one in particular. And No one in particular responds,

“Who were you talking to again?” Do any words hurt more

than your own when they fall flat into the air without anyone

being willing to pick them up, dust them off and give them

a gentle smile? Instead, they just decay there, discarded like

an old doll in a landfill thrown away because

another girl became a woman and stopped pretending

people listen. Instead we learn to keep saying the same phrase

we’ve heard others say before because someone laughed at it once

and maybe this time it will make them like you. I watched a show

about a girl who was strong enough to fight all the demons but her own.

Even cracked and chipped she held the weight of

a world of nightmares. There was a creature that stole everyone’s voices.

No one could cry for help as he cut their heart out. “Can’t call Mom.

Can’t say a word. You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.”

I still have dreams that my voice has been ripped away

and I have something that needs to be said but no

sound comes out or worse my mouth is so full of chewing gum

that no matter how much I try to spit it out I'm choking. I can't speak.

But now I'm not dreaming and still

we walk around silent as our hearts

are slowly cut away. Hour by hour for an hourly wage we are

sliced open. Is there a point to screaming? Not in our world.

No one listens anyway. Can you even hear me?

“Go to, let us go down and confound

their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Are we not all confounded still? How foolish to think that you

could build salvation. But you just continue to try. Eventually

all the towers fall and you remain babbling. We spend our lives chattering

and call it conversation like mockingbirds

mimicking sounds without understanding the words. Atticus

said it was a sin to kill a mockingbird because

all they ever do is give beautiful music

without asking for anything in return. But

the great Atticus Finch was wrong even if just this once.

All we ever do is take, build, fill and talk but never give.

Like my father always said, “Nothing’s truly free.” and even

though there’s music playing all I know is

the Mockingbird steals its song from somewhere.

Folio · 2017