Sound Damnation - Poem by Pasha Satara
In mid-October, the house flies invaded my shanty, tiny flat. First one, then two, three, then the small ones, like babies. They flew about. They grew. They walked on dog feces from the puppies and then crawled up and down my arms and legs.
I bought an old-fashioned fly swatter—but why is it called a 'swatter' when it is so obviously a death weapon?
I started smashing flies. The wounded ones got slower and slower until they were nothing but a part of my recent history. The dead ones were immediate entries on my victory list.
This is where it started, a constant shrieking, a shrieking but not a shriek, more of a chattering shriekiness, like a looped recording of crystal breaking on a reel-to-reel that never stops. It's muffled and uneven but it's right there in my head, a sound plain enough to see.
Still, with my hearing damaged from too many years of punk and rock decibels, I heard it plainly every time I laid down to sleep. Sometimes it would catch me in the middle of the afternoon or early in the morning yet somehow it seemed connected to my bed pillow. It was a mournful, angry, chattering shrieking that I had to strain to hear, yet of course, when I was not listening, I heard it bigger, louder, and it was more insistent and demanding of my attention. It was boring a hole in my brain.
I had to tell somebody because I wanted to exorcise the ghost flies. But every time I said it out loud, the whole gruesome story, the people I talked with said they heard it, too. One man, laughed melodramatically and said, 'It is the soulful migrating of the geese.'
Of course, I didn't believe any of these people. Obviously, they never heard what I heard. I watched V's of geese in flight and I was struck by the absence of sound—the ghost flies were on a mission of sound damnation.
I've opened my doors and windows now, after cutting out all the screens, and turned the furnace to an almost tropical temperature. I cut, then burnt, the fly-swatter in a gesture of good will. I have taken to leaving bits of food, garbage remnants, and piles of dog feces on the countertops and floors to pleasure the flies who come inside.
They are welcome! They do fly and swarm, buzz and even hiss, and crawl on me from head to toe, but now, with the death weapon and my penchant for the hunt both retired, I am waiting for the noise to stop.
I know I might have to wait for a long time. My arms and legs and belly are covered with red welts where I've been bitten. My left eyelid is swollen shut. But I play by their rules now. And, as for the dead, their noise continues. But this time I will be even more patient than I was when I was waiting to kill.
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