The Animist in the Basement

In the time of damp basements,
I used to talk to the walls sometimes,
quite softly,
caress them even,
my whorled fingertips
stroke-searching
for the faintest
raised evidence of mold.

On an August morning,
those netherland, concretized
holders-up-of-all things-necessary,
(like the house),
those walls were already moist.

I did my verbal massage,
my digital exam,
and I remember clear
as yesterday, sharp
as melatonin dreams,
the shape of something growing
recoiled under my touch,
and my eyes asked for more light.

I feared I’d lose the home of it,
if I left to find the slim
black bullet of modern design,
small flashlight
that lived in the junk drawer
in the kitchen above,

and so I stayed there with it,
the fuzzy seedling of something dank,
surely distasteful,
something I’d want
to poison with, say,
vinegar, or another
green killer of fungal growth.

I stayed and I leaned closer,
one hand still grazing the tips
of the tiny forest I imagined,
the other braced on smoother wall.

I stayed and I leaned in,
nostrils flaring,
prepared to test the truth of it
my cilia at attention,
brain poised
to marry what I know
of scent of mold
to this imminent olfactory immersion.

I leaned in,
I breathed in,
and it was then I heard it first—
the tiny soprano keening
of a hundred living somethings,
beseeching, imploring­­­,
and I knew
the way I often know things
that I can’t explain
that it was a village of little beings,
a country even,
and, like Horton
who heard a Who,
I also heard and knew,
I’d best leave those Tinies alone.

I learned quite young
this world will tolerate
only so much weirdness,
and I, who hear the plates
asking for rotation,
and the driveway talking to the car,
I’ve silenced myself so frequently
it feels like second nature.

There is a time, though,
to let go of such concerns,
for each of us
could be considered mad
by someone.

So here it is,
one of my truths;
I’m just learning to speak Window,
but I’m fluent in Wall,
and many of the things
you may think sense-less,
mute and dumb
are actually alive!
They feel, and talk,
and I feel and talk back

I wasn’t going to tell you,
guessing how you would react,
but the journals in my bookshelf
joined their voices
in an almost harmony
with the runner rug in the hall,
(which is strange indeed,
because they usually don’t congregate),

and they said
in their own languages
that I should try,
that this world needs more perspectives,
that none of us is wrong,
we’re all just limited,

so there, I wrote it,
I said it,
and you can take it in, or not,
but either way

please wipe your feet gently
on the doormat
it so hates when you do
all that stomping.

 

–Melinda Coppola

 

3 thoughts on “The Animist in the Basement

  1. Oh my dear Sister… this ….. Brilliance asks to hold and honor the beauty of your insights. Deep Bow, says She……

  2. Melinda, you have expressed something I often feel, that we are surrounded by many forms of consciousness, so different from our own mode of being yet worthy of being listened to. Thank you for expressing this so beautifully.

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