When I was an ear I swallowed everything whole:
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was dark maple syrup down my cochlea.
Mother sizzling onions in the frypan was a foot-tapping dance through circular canals.
Sisters slammed doors, quivered bony labyrinths.
The buzz of Father’s knife sharpener sawed at my drums.
When I was an ear, leaves crackle-teased my tympanic membrane on my way to school.
When I was an ear, rosary beads clacked and prayers flapped like bats.
Down the aisle the whoosh-whoosh of the nun’s robe.
The small desk creaked open like the door of a haunted house.
Lessons pulsed The Crusades and Marco Polo.
Horse hooves thumped and water plashed
as Crusaders clashed and Marco Polo sailed to China.
When I was an ear, a squad of lead pencils scratched sums.
I was on alert, something about a test.
The visceral dread – the proverbial fingernails down the blackboard.
The splash of vomit.
I plugged with wax.
Five vomits times four vomits equals twenty vomits.
Feet shuffled in.
The shoosh shoosh of sifted sawdust to mask the puke, then mop it.
When I was an ear, Hope was the bdddddiiiing
of the school bell ending the day,
the joyous rumble of the idling schoolbus shepherding me home.
Panicked that I’d lost my heart,
I use my GPS device to track its location.
Somewhere between brain and breastbone
I am navigated in a new direction:
“Follow the course of the road from the cerebellum along the pituitary.
Now turn left and then turn right at the atria for three beats.”
Tracking the route, I am delayed at the hippocampus.
With a name like hippocampus how can’t it be a fun place?
Long-term, pleasant memories surface:
the ice pond where I skated as a girl,
my first kiss from a boy,
swigs of Boone’s Farm Apple wine,
kelp smells scenting a faded jeans jacket creased with beach sand.
I want to dwell in the hippocampus.
“Course correction, course correction,” my GPS robotically signals.
“You are living in the past. You are not in the now.”
What fun is the Now with its reality of creaky knees, aching feet?
I steer towards hoola-hoop days – spry and supple hips and hearts
and am led to my sisters – both no longer girls — masters of the rolls and twirls.
We sisters approach, tentatively now: thinning hair, a wobbly gait, faulty hearing.
Our impatience and anxiety with each other –
our nervous laughter —
fearing that my tongue will speak the reality of my own truth
and I will offend.
I could be seduced into believing myself and my kinfolk are strangers –
that my heart has disappeared.