A solemn thing within the soul


Lying, as I am, in this satin-lined bed, I begin to think of death. The bed has become a sarcophagus, I think, and feel my lips grow cold.

The sun, as is common, went abroad, and I am left lying, as I am, in this satin lined bed. A solemn thing has happened within my soul. As I lie here, in this bed, I sense the movement of the sun, not from this day to the next, but from winter through the wet spring and I sense that I am lying in a glass case in a sunroom. Around me is a wild tangle of foreign plants such as I have never seen before. My eyes are open and I can feel my own vacancy, having lain here for much of one year. My hand, thin and chill, reaches up toward the case that has covered me, my only blanket for these many months. I push gently on the glass, and it swings open, as easily as a day lily on a warm morning. The room is rich with mulch and hummus, vines hang from high beams and the domed ceiling, like my own coffin, is glass.

Stepping out, I find a narrow path through this man made jungle, following some sense of my own, not sight or smell or reason. I feel the direction in my stomach, in my chest, which beats harder and then fades away, forcing me to sit on one of the white stone benches that appear whenever I feel I cannot go on. I’ve been hearing the sounds of greenhouse life, without really attending to them. Now, as I come to the door that will lead me outside, I realizd I am hearing a new silence. The murmuring of bees has ceased. I am standing in a city street, grey and dank, with citizens pale from their sunless lives, and they walk quickly and without looking at one another, collars turned up against the cold morning. The sound of bees and lizards and leaves is soon replaced with motors rumbling and tracks clacking, and there is no room for silence, and now a bubble has burst, and now a world returns.

A solemn thing within the soul is the ability to hear and be heard in a state of absolute quietude. When I died, I heard a fly buzz. The silence was absolute, and I did not die in that hard, noisy city, no, nor in a glass encased monument to botanical wonders. I died in the garden in my own sweet home, in the late spring. I was lying back in a lawn chair, with pillows and a cup of tea set beside me. I could hear the bees buzzing, and there was a smell around me more intimate than the smell of my own body. The smell of grass, sun, honeysuckle and the first early roses. I had a book in my hand. The bees buzzed, the sparrows clattered by, flirting and shaking the bushes with their nesting plans. And there, I fell asleep.

 

20 minutes, Monday July 13 from a line randomly chosen in a collected works of Emily Dickson.

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