Here's how it was: singing my way to birth, cracking questions to my Mom, saying clever things I didn't know were wise.
My mouth opened for schoolmates, teachers, parents, releasing a tongue that defeated them all.
As time passed, nouns and verbs broke over education's rapids, learning how to be human.
I heard melodies in language I used to heal my wounds, rhythms I banged on the table when I wanted to be reborn.
At the end, no sound could truly save me.
I had to recognize salvation in silence, a room where I was and wasn't, a fly on my forehead, my skin cooling its feet.
It lumbered toward picnics with average speed, mauled hitchhikers in a methodical way. Inside the cave it hibernated in the expected time, recovering from inactivity like you'd expect. It wanted one day to chase a park ranger up a tall tree or be a mother, raise cubs that would be extraordinary. Until then it was a basic bear, predictable, each action shown in a guide, with the numbers fitting it like a silver cage, one it couldn't escape, a life where every bear was smarter or dumber, and could not be trusted to behave. Better to sleep, lay in the yellow meadow of flowers and weeds, where each make believe image was the same as its living one, but crisper, more awake, everyone a tool of its fortune, to be eaten or ignored, to be the unknown lover, moving toward it, adequately.
-- Donald Illich’s work has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, LIT, Nimrod, Passages North, Rattle,Sixth Finch, Memoir(and), West Wind Review, failbetter,Del Sol Review, Roanoke Review, and Anti-. He’s been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize and received a scholarship from the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference.