Pluto

By Mary Bok | Mar 20, 2011

The music settles in me like a small round pebble I drop into a well. It goes deeper and deeper, fast and picks up speed as it passes through layers of light — moonlight, starlight, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, a Pro-prioceptive Writing handle (pink!), the glow of my First Communion, my wedding, my mother’s funeral, then my father’s, and, finally, the oceanic glow of Tony’s memorial service.

All these beams crisscross and weave a tapestry in my air sign. This small, black rock goes whizzing through, belching, barking, and growling, thumping all along the way.  This is the sound that could stop the contractions of a woman in labor and send the young couple running away from the cave, where they thought they’d be safe until after the child was born and the placenta had been set out in a clay bowl, at the door.

The noise gives me pause. I listen, and then, without warning, I am sucked down, down, with it, into a deep dark still and holy sleep. My whole body sinks through the hard floor and the bump and rise of blankets and pillows. Dry leaves rustle in the shadows, and, when I breathe, I smell the dank, musty odor of old life and decay. Will there be no rising from this place?

And then, I hear a violin, several of them, perhaps, with a cello weaving in and out through the configurations of light. I let go of my gear and rise to meet the sound, watery and soft, it ripples through dream time and heart throb. I sweep my arms up and over my head, kick my long legs, which now feel more like a great fish’s tail, and I swim upward, towards the beams of light, towards their source, hoping to take deep gulps of their energy. I want more air! I need a breath! I want more light. I need to shine! I want to know that I am safe again from that dark skank that pulled me down, fierce in his unspoken intentions, thick, coarse unspoken intentions, thick, coarse hair, bristling out of sweaty muscles and sinew, foul breath, smelling of last night’s meat, smoke and too much wine, gruff, hoarse breath, wheezing in and out of his exercised lungs. His rheumy eyes held in place by old, weary lids, curled over at their edge, inflamed, swollen, sore, oozing watery tears.

I had had no choice. I felt no love. I asked for nothing from this force. I didn’t even ask for an explanation of where he was taking me or what he intended to do with me once we got there. The fear that hissed at me, hinted I would probably be his supper. And who knows what, after that?

As we staggered up the flagstone walk that led to his door, I saw, carved in the lintel, one word:  “Pluto,” and I heard his raspy voice mumble gruffly to himself: “Home again, home again.”  But, before he threw the door open, I saw a muffled light coming from under its dark wooden frame, and heard the unmistakable sound of a pair of violins and a cello!

The sound was, in fact, a prayer that came from my own heart in short, sweet gasps of air and I blew it hard against that door, before I began to swim.

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