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Words in My Mouth, like Strawberries, in October

Student 24's picture

I played with Frost. It was October. If only I had learnt from Ray Bradbury that October was a grotesque Country where you should only step foot if you are looking to be assaulted by the skeletons your mind shoved in a closet on purpose in the first place. It was October, silly.

I opened the closet, and out walked Robert. He brushed off the Frost from his shoulders; it must have been cold and dusty behind the Doors. Or he was tired of being cold. He walked out. And I stepped into his Home Burial.

I fell deep. The door was wide open and I fell damn deep. I told myself all I had to do was pull apart the words and reconstruct them into a window. So I sat on the narrow, creaky staircase and listened attentively to Frost and his wife. But slowly – I found – slowly, I was listening to myself. And I had the same voice as his wife.

I was accusing. I was hurt. I was pushing away. I was losing. I was missing. Home Burial. 

There wasn’t a way to pick out my own words, care about his, and try to assemble a window which might cast light on our conflict. What we needed to was to smash open the windows we already had, and get some fresh air.

I was overwhelmed as I fell deeper and deeper into Frost’s Home. Or was Frost just pulling out some things that already existed deep in the back of my closet?

Lay them on the table. Let me hear you say what you already know about them, but use a different voice so you can hear yourself do the talking. 

Frost played with me more than I was capable of resisting. So I played back.

I wrote that,


There is nothing more beautiful

“There is nothing more beautiful than a dying rose,” she murmured.

“There’s you,” he tried.

“There is no need,” she neared herself to him, “for redundancy.”

“You needn’t constantly bring those flowers,” she whined. “You needn’t constantly make me watch them die.” 
“But you don’t see me kill them. I just bring you what is freshly dead by other hands.”

“You needn’t,” she retreated, “remind me of rotting carcasses.”

She’d only kept the bouquets for show. For showing the real petals she kept would be too grotesque a scene for a light-hearted, happy-fingered flower-picker.

“Let’s hold hands,” she twitched. “And skip through a pumpkin patch.”

And so they did.

And so they very much did.

They skipped through orangey meat and leafy tentacles,

and through the stringy, fleshy seeds—

all the while the crows would sneer at her,

or at them both?

“There is nothing,” she recited. “There is nothing.”

“There is only nothing.”

“You needn’t constantly run,” he tried to catch her breath before catching his own.

“You need only to—”

“Nothing. There is only nothing,” she panted. She panted.

“But, where? Where is this nothing you see?”

“Always becoming, in all its beauty, nothing. And me only just less beautiful.”
And so she very much was.


I wrote back.

And in doing so, many catching-of-breaths later, I was introduced to Instructions.

A new voice Instructed me in a constructed chamber. I took Neil’s voice and decorated it with my own harmonies. Then I inhaled deeply and submerged myself in an ambient ocean.

There, below, I met December’s Frost. December was generous with strawberries. Who would have thought? Hearts can be well-hidden, he smiled affectionately in response to my musing.

Have I truly left October?

I’ve walked down a different path and through a different door into a different home. Oh, sorry? Make a home, or rest, I hear. A home? How?

Walk through the house, take nothing.

I’ve just been sitting here, on the steps, listening to them. Don’t worry, I won’t take anything. (But I am slightly offended. I am not a thief, after all. It’s not my house, but I can make a home here, I hope? To make a home. Do I take or do I give.) 

If it cries to you that it hurts, if you can, ease its pain.

So, to give, I take it, is the correct response.

And again: She may ask for something. Give it to her.

I remember the previous home. The previous Burial. She – I – was asking, but there was nobody to give it to her – me – because it was already taken before. That kind of loss, I – she – know, cannot be given no matter how she – I – pleads. 

The woman is older now, so much older. And I have done nothing to help her.

Pick strawberries, the Frost of December is offering as advice in wintry whispers. Pick strawberries.

Pick strawberries.

I know I’ve written and sung about strawberries before,

“Spotted not seen, among all the green,
I'm saying that you've got to mean it.
Despite any screen for colors serene,
Delirious meaning you've seen it.

Stepping and splattering, slurring your screeches,
I'm stumbling into sympathetic beaches.
Suppressed into a sea of sandy-haired seduction;
Got to find you, 'cause I'm slipping on fuzzy yellow peaches.

But it's so sweet in my mouth, the taste of singing those sugary love songs,
And it's so sweet licking your tears of joy,
And it's so unbearably sweet to dance on the street in the raining strawberries.
I wouldn't wanna lose one, no I wouldn't wanna lose a strawberry like you,”

But we must have lost something because we are asking to be given.

Trust ghosts. Trust those who you have helped to help you.

There is so much space in this ghostly ocean of words and imagination. There is so much space you can’t see the end. You can’t hear the end.

The ghosts make me think that home is an end because it was the beginning. They make me think that comfort and familiarity is an end because it was the beginning. I make me think that a broken home is an ended home and must be buried outside from the home. And then what?

I wouldn’t wanna lose a strawberry like you. Losing is the worst.

I would think hearing my own voice to be comforting, but it is not. I hear myself in an ambient ocean behind a foreign voice. If I put others’ words in my mouth, like strawberries, am I tasting the strawberry? Or am I expressing the taste of the strawberry? Or am I the strawberry?

You are what you eat.

If I put my words in others’ mouths, are they still my words? Am I hearing myself? Am I listening to myself? Or only my words? Am I my words? Are my words me? 

You are what you - I - say.



Inspiring poems: 

Robert Frost, “Home Burial.”

Neil Gaiman, “Instructions.”

[sound file link in e-mail]