The first walls are a great animal sleeping inside the sound of the heart. Sound of the rain. Breath.
The second walls are far, like what is near in a fever. So far away there is no sense of wall, only odors and voices, and the very smallness of the self.
The third walls take you back to the first. To sleep. To dreams. And these are the walls you eventually fall through. This is when you learn what your lungs are for and how alone you are inside your pain.
The fourth walls are everywhere, and you can move among them, listening to the talk of a green bird in a cage. Or you lie on your back and turn them upside down and spend the evening alone and calling. Inside these walls are the spaces that might be yours. One day you make a little version of the world on a scale you can lean above. You stand in the hall with the green bird in the cage beside you, opening and closing the gate you’ve made in this world, and this is when you begin to know who you are.
The fifth walls are full of ghosts. When you sleep inside these walls it is hard to know which world you are walking in. These walls are old, and they are where your dreams will come from for a long time. Inside these walls you carry an invisible thing you don’t yet know how to name, even when it greets you, resting its cold hand on your back as you climb the stairs. You don’t speak of it, but each time you come back inside these walls, it moves close to you.
Inside the sixth walls you take your books, turning over each page where the invisible thing you carried home from the ghosts takes on voices and shapes and tells you stories about yourself. These walls are old and high, and here you discover how small a woman is supposed to be, and how big your ghosts are. You begin to write back to them and all the empty space you find you can fill with what you want to say,
and saying makes around you the seventh walls. Words that pull the white peaks of the sky together, a roof the rain now beats down on, that the creek rises beside. House of wind. House of water. Sound of the heart. The rain.
by Terry Ehret
from her book Lucky Break (2008)
photo by Jurek Durczak via flickr