As You Tell It

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AS YOU TELL IT by Ashley InguantaOn the day before I turned thirty, we spun a hurricane on a sheet of glass.

And now, after I learn about the terror attack in Turkey, I imagine us here, in America, hiding from bombs, unable to reach those we love. Sometimes I need to remember that I can’t see the future.

But once, someone told me that I could see the past, that I was gifted in psychometry—my partner, are you? When you touched the glass, what did you see? One thousand birds falling, flying, circling, then dropping around a copper eye, gold as the sun? Did you see her, body gently reaching out the window—twelve years after the twin towers fell—looking for a disc of light? Did you see me on the other side of the street with my camera, one day after bowing to the new moon, there and ready? Did you see me almost miss the frame?

Did you see us—fourteen years after the towers fell—in a car on a bare Texas back road? Did you see the ghost towns find us, stick to us like a metallic hum? Did you notice how the air changed when we entered Katemcy? Did you understand the wolf cries in Fredonia? How, as we stepped inside Chuck’s bus, he looked at us as if we were a miracle, how the butterfly was there, ripped wing, knowing just what it feels like to lose memory?

The eye of the storm, you say, fingertips on the glass. It’s right there.

I see the eye. It’s hollow, thin like a nail. I want to touch it, but I don’t. Instead, I keep my fingertips on the glass’ outer edge. I see myself walking into that Katemcy chapel, and you’re there, too; in fact, we are walking in together, and I’m asking you if it’s okay to step in (yes, yes you say). I spin the glass, I see the storm’s eye. I see dust on pew wood, raccoon print like a story, floorboards uneven, crisp secrets. I understand that we were surrounded, then, by a sliver of God, and for a split second we flashed into something weightless, something still.

On the day I turned thirty, I moved my body into shapes of devotion. It was one minute before noon. I remember heat in my body; I remember light, stories of my birth—how it came so soon, so sudden. When the towers fell, I was fifteen. I remember turning the TV on when I got home from school; I remember listening to music that reminded me of heaven. I remember dreams I’d have of horses, running hard, running fast. Maybe it was 1948 in the dream. Maybe it wasn’t. But I remember a stillness, the way each horse’s chestnut coat shone bold in the sun.

I am alone in this memory, like the butterfly was alone in the bus—ripped wing fluttering like an impression struggling to stay in the mind. When I learned about the terror attack in Turkey, I imagined you dying, me unable to save you. And then I had to remember that I cannot see the future.

When I go to bed, sometimes I see crowds of people underneath the new moon. They are still. I bow to them, I get my camera. I repeat my search: Viewfinder ready. One day later, a woman opens her window, and together we search for the thread that binds us to that big, swirling sky.

Tell me—when you touched the glass, when we grew that hurricane, what did you see?

I want to know your version, as you tell it.


Photo used under CC. 




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About Author

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Ashley Inguanta is a writer, art photographer, and educator. She is the author of three collections: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books, 2014), and Bomb (Ampersand Books, 2016). Her work has also appeared in publications like The Rumpus and SmokeLong Quarterly, where she served as Art Director for five years. Her forthcoming full-length collection, The Flower, is due out next year with Ampersand Books.

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