by Cristina Legarda
It hasn’t been the same since Simon Peter swung his sword at me. I ducked, but just not far enough. He got my ear, blood everywhere, but I could still make out the shouts of men on either side, and then a voice unlike the rest, a Tower of Babel against the din, with talk of cups and drinking and I know not what. In all that chaos, he was calm, though when he touched my bleeding head, it burned so painfully that I cried out. But then he took his hand away, and in its place: my ear restored, more perfect than it’d ever been, even tiny bones within, minute stones and cochlea suffused with warmth and mystery, my hearing now so clear and sharp I heard the beating of his heart, the movement of each ancient tree inside that olive grove, the whispers at the city gates, the soldiers’ hardened thoughts. I thought: dear God, please take this clarity away. I cannot bear the secrets of the suffering world, the struggling love in every heart impeded in its flowing out, the lowing beasts, the tortured cries of every trampled blade of grass, the platyhelminths and the desert rock, the cedars stretching high above. And faraway, inside the sea, the whales are singing smothered in the deeps, unheeded, bathed in silence. I can hear them in my kitchen now, as I wipe platters with a rag, the mothers calling to their calves, their bodies breathing as they breach and fall again against the waves, the ripples from their ecstasy dispersed against the farthest shores, where hermit crabs create elaborate designs in sand, their little steps a patter in my mind, like raindrops on the leaves of trees, writing notes that only I can hear. The children. Children! How they cry. Please take this cup away from me. It is too much, this perfect ear, too full of songs I can’t revise, or bear, or sing, of stories I can’t write.
Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared in America magazine, The Dewdrop, Dappled Things, Plainsongs, FOLIO, Ruminate, The Good Life Review, and others.