Taut when pulled in two opposing directions. Thick, sturdy. This black cord is looped through the space created by bottom of my guitar strap and the side of my guitar. I thread that black cord through and into the input jack. It buzzes lightly before plugging in, and buzzes a little more aggressively on impact. Like angry bees. The other end has been already plugged into my amplifier. And the sound comes to life. Responds to my movements, when on purpose or accidental.
Toaster over cord that keeps falling out of its socket. Bad socket, loose wire? Toast stays bread for way too long. Time to take it to the bath and destroy it. The only sure way to summon Zeus…and a trip to Mount Olympus. Or…what am I saying? One way ticket to Hades for sure. Down the river Styx. To whatever semblance of an afterlife you imagine.
On the telephone in 1970 with a curly cord extending from the receiver to the rotary phone. The kind you have to stick your finger in and turn to dial. Something rhythmic about it. Something also magical. The phone is in between lime and forest green. Smells a little funny at the speaking end. High quality grade plastic. I can hear the dial tone, which I just recently found out is allegedly 440 hZ (which is the pitch of A above middle C – I think). Everything now is cordless. It’s so ubiquitous, it doesn’t even need to be advertised as such.
Guitars, toasters, and phones. These things have been around for years and years. Commonplace items to be expected in a common, shared human existence. Art, food, and socialization. These connectors, these cords have enabled us to express, eat, and communicate. That new guitar smell, fresh out of the case. The smell of burnt toast. The smell of a used phone.
First it’s a seed. Buried beneath damp earth. Encased in dirt. Secure. As it absorbs the moisture, it starts to grow out in all directions as if it just can’t contain it’s excitement anymore. Nature’s sexual energy in slow motion. The roots, though light and soft like doily cut in half, down the middle, so, so thin and fragile – They take hold and grip the earth tight. As tight as they can. Days pass. Rain comes and goes. Perhaps a cold spell. And now, it begins its ascent. Trepidatiously creeping higher and higher until it has broken the dirt. Nature’s periscope. This baby stem looks around and takes a deep breath of country air. Middle America spaciousness. The roar of silence under a big overcast country sky. Suddenly, a cloud begins to shift and a star is born as the Sun for the first time in this flower’s life and it is overwhelming ecstasy. If Baby Stem had eyes, they would have closed, basking in it. Warmth and like, time stops. Reaching up with it’s top, if it had arms they would be reaching backwards, as to further propel its face and front to this golden ball of buttery bliss. In days to come, a leaf will sprout at each end. The stem will grow a little taller. Reaching, reaching, reaching. If it had arms they would be up and outstretched, so jealous Little Stem would be if he knew of the trees in the forest. A bud forms at the top. A little nugget of floral promise. Beginning to smell sweet. Even the bees have started buzzing about, checking on its progress. Playing a waiting game, though impatient they are. When the sun goes down and the moon shines over Stem and Bud, it takes a breath.
Quiet forest where the snapping of one branch will cause Mother Nature to turn her head. A doe with neck stooped down gently drinking from a stream, raises up and pauses. Eyes wide and minimally blinking. There is the sound of rushing water, birds chirping, the rustling of branches in the wind. She has cute little ears that stick up, oscillating, turning, confirming. Nostrils of her black nose flare and pulse. Hooves hold their ground. If you could only hear her heart beating fast. Internal drum that marks the rhythm of every movement and emotion. Her collective unconscious knows the sound could mean death. There are no diplomatic channels when it comes to the hunter and the hunted.
Her child, a baby fawn, peers out of a leafy bush. Nose also pulsing, seeming to ask if it’s okay to come out. Doe scans the area once more with her eyes and finding nothing, permits young Fawn to come have a drink by the water. White spots dot the fawn’s tan backside. A bushy white tail freely bounces back and forth in the joy of a cool drink.
A buck appears with strong irreconcilable antlers. He is towering and formidable. Protectively, he steps in front of his family. Hearing no sound he still makes a point to scan the area, to make sure it’s okay for him to come off his guard for a single minute so he may also take a drink. Satisfied with the visual landscape, he also bends his head, his horns a crown he wears that bears the burden of fatherhood.
The forest smells of wood and earth and decomposing leaves. Pines also pervade, evergreen trees. Smells a car air freshener couldn’t even begin to accurately capture. There is no difficulty on a deep inhale such as this.
Blue scrubs and the beeping of a heart monitor. In the distance, rolling wheels and frantic voices. The pump of the Purell dispenser. Keyboards clacking. Footsteps. Murmurs. Lights loudly click on. Hearing fading. Vision blurring into two dark tunnels with no traffic. Until they are black marbles in the dark. Incisions are made, but not before intravenous anesthesia, which has now taken full effect. IVs full of hydration and drugs – liquid and necessary. Taking out a heart and replacing it with one other than your own. What does it mean, when your own heart has failed you? You should die on default? Yes, medical science is truly a marvel and why not save a life when you can. But when your own body says “no” to you? Maybe it’s for a reason? Don’t save my life! I deserve to die! Leave me hear on this table as I float about the room in circles and haunt this surgery bay forever! Doctors work in silence, occasionally calling out for different scalpels and equipment. It’s just the breathing machine and the breathing of the doctors, nurses, and medical staff. Wife anxiously waits in the waiting room. Hands closed in prayer when her nails so deep in her skin give birth to a little blood. Startled she lets go, but wrings them. Wondering if she really should attempt to read a magazine to distract herself. “30 Ways To Get Fit + Recipes!” Feeling as she did she could vow never to eat again and mean it. The room, pale yellow with antiquated green pleather furniture. She’s the only one. It’s late. The windows are pitch black. If she cups her hands against the window to look out, she sees a few lampposts. Can make out trees and bushes if she really tries. But from where she’s sitting, it’s just the black. Moving in and getting darker and deeper with each passing planetary spin and rotation. The florescent lights are too bright. She wishes there was a dimmer switch. Numb mind. Tired and fatigued.
To clip a bird’s wings for the sake of keeping them in a cage was thought by Nigel to be a barbaric act. Yet here he is was in the hoarded home of a serial wing clipper. It smelled of woodchips and birdseed. The kind of familiar pet store smell, that makes the nose want to stop working, stop smelling. It halts the olfactory senses and begs the body to go outside and get some fresh air. The warm air hung in the room, filled with incessant tweeting and the vibration of little bird feet clinging from bar to bar of their cage. The rustle of the feathers, shaking them open and loose. Multiplied by at least 27 birds, the sound was deafening. Nigel would have to free them all. The man in question was not home, which frankly made it all the easier. Limping over to the first cage, he found the latch and laid his hand on it. But where would the birds go once they’d be freed? He had to open a window, a door – both. Dragging his left foot slightly behind his right, he made is way over to where he had entered, taking a nearby stack of books and propping the door open. Once secure, he made his humble way across the room, but struggled opening the window. It felt like it hadn’t been opened in years. Quite stuck. Nigel closed his eyes and pushed upwards with all his might, straining. He budged. Just enough where there was a crack. Suddenly, he heard a car door slam. His heart jumped into his throat, blood pulsed in his ears. Was he home so soon? Nigel tried to talk himself down. It could just be a neighbor. The reverberation of the street isn’t always accurate as to where the sound is coming from; It could have been the next street over. Nigel’s hands started to sweat. He could feel each individual bead form in pinpricks on his palm. He would have to start releasing the birds, hoping they’d find the front door, and deal with the window later. He took the nearest cage and opened it. “Come on, little fella. Don’t you want to be free?” The yellow and green parakeet looked at him with beady eyes and lightly chirped to him.
“Nigel, what you are you doing? These birds can’t fly.”