The wind

A spell and a bird, and the mournful, angry blasts of the train's horn in the distance. A chill wind on a summer’s day; the breath of death or the divine. She doesn’t know which. She often feels it when the train is heard, far off, beyond the rumble of traffic and the incessant chatter of birds.

She has learned to ignore the wind. She knows it’s the breath of God, and God is no friend of hers. And yet she won’t be whole until she accepts the wind, lets it become a part of her, the breath to her bones. (I sit here, writing, afraid of sounds, of interruptions that will derail my intent, a weak reed to begin with. But if I plug my ears, I won’t hear the birds. Exactly my point. I may be as afraid of sound as she is of wind.)

Wind is more essential, however. You need to breathe; you can live without hearing. As the years go by, she feels the wind more often, more insistently. Come with me, it whispers, softly at first. But every year, it pushes harder. She feels it every day, then every hour, every minute. By the time she gets to middle age, it’s howling. Her senses fill. The dust it raises clots her eyes and ears, fills her mouth, scours her skin. Still she resists.

The wind, a hurricane, batters her day after day. Her husband leaves; her children turn away. In the whirlwind of her mind, time loses its meaning, day and night and sunlight and starlight all twisting into one long undifferentiated strand. Her bones knit with her organs, nerves and sinews entwined with flesh, her lungs holding out the longest, far longer than her heart. And yet she will not yield. She would die first. She is sure she is dying.

Finally, God gives up. There is an inhalation. The winds die down. They flutter away, dissipating into whispers. They recede like an ebbing tide. Figuring that, like the tide, the winds will turn, she still resists.

Then, when the world is calm, there is the still, small voice. I’m sorry, it breathes, moving just enough air to bend a single blade of grass. All is silent.

Then, in the distance, the moan of a mournful train. Close to her, birds call in voices she has not heard in years. The day is sunny. There is no breeze. She weeps.

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