“Experimental Discourse” Feature: Kimberly Crafton’s “Questioning the Silence”

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Kimberly Crafton

This piece is the result of three shorter pieces who wanted to know what would happen if they were left alone to play together. They thought they had something to say to one another – and it’s up to readers to decide if they were right or not. Bringing them together was a very important first step – and giving free reign to the nature of their discourse is, I suppose, the only experiment. 

If I were to succeed at defining experimental discourse, I would immediately destroy it. It’s one of those things that, by carefully categorizing it, one negates the experimental nature of it… and so …   Is this a trick question?

I don’t have specific writers who are my guides in experimentation. Rather, I look for those moments in the work of any writer where, while reading, I realize I’ve stopped breathing. Something about what they have just written has taken them from habitual paths, or has combined with another element to create something new, out of their usual realm. I don’t know how to define it, per se, but I always know it by feel. When my skin starts to tingle and my eyes race ahead across the page, I know for sure I’m in new territory and I’m hooked.

Questioning the Silence

“Ocean Energy #2” by Gene Kreyd

From sweet patches of silver light I brush your footsteps with my night-crowned shadow. I learned from my gypsy mother how to fade into the whirlpool, how to disappear into the fog of ecstatic singing sitting low over the water. When one knows the language of love, one doesn’t need a lover to respond to the call – the way a bright blue fish darts into a canal of seaweed back into the womb of the universe.

How do we understand the thrum we cannot hear? It tickles inside us, sliding like dew along our throat, feeding the truths that need to come out, soft and wiggling, seaweed dancing the current.

My birth is as much of a mystery to me as my continual not-dying each day. My childhood rolls itself into a long cardboard tube, one end put tight to the lips. I speak through it and laugh. I trace lines around my hours, but the moment I look back – nothing is there. Nothing surprises the white hollow sameness – voice over color over line over wave.

Maybe we are the space in between – that thing we are always seeing out of the corner of our eye – only to snap our head round and look back quick – but we’re never there. We’re never there. Must have been crazy. Seeing things again. It was nothing – just a trick of the eye.

As a little girl, I knew could trick the whole world when I closed my eyes. I would stay very still and the world – I was sure – thought I was sleeping. My long, black lashes covered the open slits through which I peeked, searching for whatever it was I wasn’t supposed to see.

But peer out into the lash-covered world as I might, I never saw anything that woke me up and out of my forever boredom. Never did I spy the magic which I was sure hid just beyond my slit of sight. I’ve tried over and over again to slip into that space I couldn’t yet see. It’s got to be here somewhere.

“With my mouth in the one hand and my death in the other – I question the silence.”    ~ Roberto Juarroz

According to family lore, when my great-grandmother held me in her arms for the first time, she whispered, “This child will change the world.”  Her birth-day proclamation has haunted me ever since. Was it a prediction? What did she read in my new face that would make her say such a thing? Or did she say that about every new baby she saw and held?  How would I know?

The odd thing is, for my entire life I’ve felt like she spoke something true that day. Something more than real. But which came first? Did hearing my family’s legend of her words at my birth give me this feeling? Or did it come from an internal sense of my always-future self? What do I know?

No really… what DO I know? I know only those things I Have Been, only the places I Have Been, the experiences I Have Had.

Am I then who I Was? Or am I who I Will Be?

Is it even possible to pinpoint who I actually Am, since The Present is a moving point upon which I always but only momentarily stand?

Since I stand eternally in that Present – in those forever fleeting moments – it seems that there are some common elements, certain things which seem to be with me fairly consistently in each present moment. When limited to examining our conscious states, perhaps we can know only the things we are rather than knowing exactly who we are.

I think I am wonder. I am laughter and gratitude abounding. I am uncertainty. I think I know nothing – and my greatest hope is that somehow, at the end, all my nothings turn out to be everything.

I think I am hunger that feeds ravenously on spirit, on my connection to that thing I still don’t understand but that I nonetheless call Love. I am humiliation and the slow breath of forgiveness. I am where the big picture meets the tiny details. I am the soul of water and the song of wind.

I think I am ridiculous and I find that profound.

 

About the writer:
Kimberly Crafton is a current Pushcart Nominee and a writer of narrative essays, letters, articles, and cultural heritage guide books. She has been writing professionally for the past 20 years. Her personal writing is an almost mystic walk through the everyday moments of life, where unexpected details call themselves to be noticed and understood, if not loved. While she calls us to experience the world through her always curious eyes, it is her deep ability to regard events from the viewpoint of other people that frames and gives grace to her voice. Humor and compassion lift her unabashedly into the role of a voracious observer who continues to find more questions than answers.

Image:  “Ocean Energy #2: Spring by Gene Kreyd. Mixed media on canvas. 70 x 80 cm. 2017. By permission. Gene Kreyd is a Russian-born California artist. He is well-known internationally for his clothing design, films, music, and photography; however, his primary interest is and has always been painting abstract art. Kreyd exhibits across the world, and his paintings are in public and private collections in Europe, Russia, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Kreyd is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for April 2019.