that the image you seized upon during a walk to do laundry is not,
sadly, an original one: Trump Tower of Babel.
(And that search just as swiftly uncovers the wisdom of the tarot—
apparently—did you know this?—the Tower card—yes, likely a reference
to Babel—is a trump card which immediately follows the Devil
and is associated with “sudden, disruptive, and potentially destructive
change”—truly, you’ve stumbled into an online abyss of hidden meanings
and Wikipedia distractions. Return to your laundry.) Crestfallen,
I do, but realize that as with all myth, it’s what you make of the story
that matters. Is it a “fact” to hoard like grain in a pyramid built
by literal nonsense, rigid and unyielding? Or is it a metaphor to continually
mine, one that will somehow always yield gold? I settle on the latter,
settle into the chatter of the mind, replaying last night’s conversations:
the hungry talk, the ravenous listening, the bread, the wine.
What communion this? A pop tune, perhaps, a drunken howl—no,
we will never be saints—choral support, the words we somehow all
remember, liked a mantra turned and returned to.
And so the story isn’t about the modern-day Nimrod, the hubris of phallus
gesturing lewdly heavenwards—it’s about the confounding tongues, mysterious
in their multiplicity, voices beautiful in their baffling difference
from our own. We’ve been talking a lot about ‘doing something’—
and I think the talk, remarkably, is something. Sing, goddess,
of “a cry of pain that could have got loud and worse but hadn’t” (Bishop)—
a cry that turned into the voice we use when we want to be heard
at a noisy party, or over the din of the city, or ignorance, or when you’re looking
for the right words to say, I can’t understand you, not anymore, we need
to go back to the time when we all used the same language,
a song as elemental as a beating heart, the sound that a human being
makes when it says, I’m here, we exist, and I want you to know
what I mean.
Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal Page, Hanging Loose Magazine, Unsplendid, 3Elements Review, Silver Birch Press, and Bodega Magazine, among others.