There is a place where lightning strikes, somewhere close to the home and wherever the heart is. It electrifies you to the wit’s end–a journey that stops at the edge of a synapse–with the heels of reason dug into the soft tissue of your brain. Gray matter, where everything is left uncertain.
Lightning strikes here, in the balance of before and after. And you, swaying in the breeze of old days, wonder what will happen on the eve of new traditions. How will you make them without making the same mistakes? Without having the same mistakes done unto you? You sit on this thought like a cloud, collecting drop after drop of washed up logic, and finally wring the past clean. Let the wrinkles unfold. Hang your mind out to dry.
The clothesline will sling in a half-smile and the sun will warm your winter’s skin. Time has stopped here, just for you. You greet the laundry basket with a nod because it is polite and not because you enjoy tending to dirty things. Untouchable, even. But you do so anyway, out of habit, you suppose. Or because they appear clean. Soon the grime and grease and dirt of old memories is all over your hands and underneath your fingernails where the DNA is hidden. You begin to chomp on the cuticles.
A low grumble shakes in the distance. It sounds like the single note played by the organ player at the funeral. Every time a song had ended, the note carried on, vibrating through the pews, up the soles of the black shoes, reverberating through the rib cages, pushing past every lump caught in the throats, and lifting the heads of those that were bowed. Mysterium fidei.
The mystery of faith was approaching, or had already arrived. It was hard to tell through teary eyes and a snotted nose. There is a place where lightning strikes, I recall, and will it to be here for you. On bended knee, I pray for rain. The woman across the aisle shakes her head. Not yet! Not yet! she screams in a whisper, and shoos you back to the clothesline where the fabric is already wet. Your heart, drenched in the shame of untold stories.
They shatter like lightning, cracking the foundation of the narrative–the common clothespin that holds us up, and together. This is a place where things fracture and fall a part, sprinkling the ground like seeds of a sunflower. A whole handful can be chewed and swallowed, shells and all. Tastes like salt-flavored hurt and rests, along with other things of this nature, in the pit of your stomach. Just ask the alphabet soup–its fragmented letters sitting quietly in the dark–unaware that they share the same space. Just a flash would do, that’s all it would take.
When lightning strikes here, courage shows up. Words begin to bubble over and choke out, as if you are breathing for the first time. Your eyes well at the regret of not learning how to do this sooner. At the disappointment of nobody showing you how. The first sound you make is a struggle–awkward and unruly–and courage is declaring it into the microphone. The reception is loud and clear. I can tell by the sobs and sighs that we are all listening, perhaps also for the first time. The tissues in my hand are crumpled and contaminated with the unsettling anguish of time without tell. I cannot measure any of this.
But you clear your throat and speak again. Courage has given you the conviction. You speak off-script with gratitude and praise, etching a new love into the air with grace. You pause at the surprise of its ability to bond beyond all repairs, as if you are believing for the first time. Your eyes well at the fresh perspective of storytelling. At the risk of showing everybody how.
Soon the words begin to roll off your tongue like thunder, clapping each syllable into being as the sentences linger into the depths of all the souls. I begin to count in my seat. One Mississippi, two Mississippi…How close am I to that place where lightning strikes?