I have ravens on my shoulders.
Those are ravens from another time. They belong to a god, not to me.
These are mine, now.
My constant companions.
Whatever I meet in my life, whenever something asks me to take notice, while I am hesitating, gauging my response, deciding how to engage, one of them croaks a reply, breaking the silence, claiming the moment. There is no room, it seems, for me to respond.
I realize during a short car ride that E. has grown again and that now there is no longer an inch of shell above his head. We have to turn his carseat around.
E. is full of pent-up energy after another cold day spent largely inside. He is running laps of our upstairs hallway, wants me to count off every one, negotiates to an agreed upon conclusion then refuses to stop. I need him to go to bed and he is not listening.
E. is coming down the stairs, as he does multiple times a day, always safely, always holding on to the bannister, and I cannot shake the feeling that he will slip, stumble, tumble head first down all fourteen of them to the unforgiving hardwood floor below.
Q. is sick, really sick, with real flu, not a Man Cold, as sick as I have ever seen him in the eleven and a half years our lives have been intertwined. He can barely stand up. The household still needs to function.
E. is sleeping late, as he is wont to do now that he no longer naps. 8:30 a.m. comes and then passes. We have nowhere to go; there is no need to rush. But he is sleeping so quietly and I didn’t check on him last night before I went to bed, and I have never been quite able to reconcile this child’s new sleeping habits with his old ways where he would wake at the slightest hint of sound.
The woman on my birth club is fifteen weeks now. I should be too.
I have a deadline for my dissertation again. It is important.
That one says more than the other. It is larger, more demanding, harder to shut away. Anger is more prone to unexpected outbursts, croaks responses that lack proportion. Anxiety is softer but more insidious. It has spent more time with me.
They both catch me off guard. They will be silent and then, suddenly, before I can take another breath, one or the other will be giving voice, bright black eyes missing nothing, claws digging into my skin.
Occasionally they fall quiet, when the outer world does not require a response.
I am getting better at shying away from things, at keeping them silent. When I end up in conversation, exposed, I stutter now, stumble over my words. I am no longer sure of how to move within a world where everyone else appears to be whole.
It is still hard to keep them silent. I often can’t see them waking up.
My shoulders sneak up when I am not paying attention, trapping tension in my back and my neck. When I realize what is happening, I take deep breaths. I force them back down.
It’s never enough to shake the ravens free.
They are heavy. My entire body bows under their weight.
I would like to be free of them.
I just can’t seem to figure out how to make them leave.