Memoir : Tears reveal what’s real

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At the bus stop at 50th St and while riding the bus, an anonymous angel was singing. Her voice reminded me of Erykah Badu. She was branchlike thin. Her lithe face was in a sculpture of pain, drooping with grave stories but she was gloriously murmuring in a hum, lyrics like a mantra.

The magic in her voice, pierced the abandoned hole in my heart. Silent tears slid through, past public politeness, liquid stars raced across my cheeks like a tiny, living creek. Riding on the bus, economy class, on the poor people’s mobile aquarium, I washed my face in diamond tears with my working class hands.

I wanted to tell her how gorgeous her voice was, but I couldn’t. I was afraid to break the momentum into something Else. If she ignored my praise, it would ruin the connection, that we were spiritual sisters haunted with different but parallel scars of suffering. But she walked off the bus onto Telegraph Avenue, as another long lost stranger.

My mother lived to sing too, singing announced she was joyful, not huddled in a corner blocking blows. Singing revitalized her back to her true nature as a triumphant giantess. She smiled as she sang and swayed, with clasped hands, shaped like puzzle. Mother released the prison camp torture battered into her body with her operatic voice, she never needed a microphone when she was singing.

She sang a secret celebration from her diaphragm, from a center of core individual power. She vibrated prismatic notes into her heart, stomach and lungs. Rings of energy flowed. Her voice wove through a survivor’s journey of miracles. When she was singing, it meant she was safe and alive, clear skies, enemy gone. Her voice was an escape to the paradise outside: away from her private domestic war: of shouting, chasing, slaps, kicks in the ribs, attacks of dungeon rage. Art saves us from the hell we inherit and redistribute on earth.

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