Glossolalia

He sang the story of how he woke on his mother’s couch to crumbs raining down from a hand in a cage. How his eye twitched and greeted the hungover morning. The happy puppet in the cage speaking in tongues. How this is a real condition and I can look it up if I want to. Angel Man Syndrome, spelled how it sounds. How sometimes our bodies grow and our minds don’t follow. And what was his overwhelmed aunt to do but move in with his Pentecostal mother. What was left to be done but pray. What could he do but sleep. His never-photographed cousin babbling lullabies to lull him to the dull dark of slumber. 

You can hear a song without listening to the words. You can project meaning onto the melody. I heard my own song. That we are caged. That we are trapped with families who can never understand us, or us them. That we wake to the absurd suffering of the world and gladly choose anything else, praying for tongues of flame to dance over our heads and fill us with unseen holiness. But what he sang was different. Our pain not as hook but punchline. That in cleverness, freedom. We being enclosed. We being sung to. This being the song of the prisoner who has grown to love his cage.

David Joez Villaverde is a CantoMundo fellow and an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan. He is the winner of Black Warrior Review’s 2018 poetry contest. His work has appeared in Fanzine, Wigleaf, The Indianapolis Review, Tinderbox, Dreginald, and The Jellyfish Review. He lives in Detroit and can be found at schadenfreudeanslip.com

Glossolalia

He sang the story of how he woke on his mother’s couch to crumbs raining down from a hand in a cage. How his eye twitched and greeted the hungover morning. The happy puppet in the cage speaking in tongues. How this is a real condition and I can look it up if I want to. Angel Man Syndrome, spelled how it sounds. How sometimes our bodies grow and our minds don’t follow. And what was his overwhelmed aunt to do but move in with his Pentecostal mother. What was left to be done but pray. What could he do but sleep. His never-photographed cousin babbling lullabies to lull him to the dull dark of slumber. 

You can hear a song without listening to the words. You can project meaning onto the melody. I heard my own song. That we are caged. That we are trapped with families who can never understand us, or us them. That we wake to the absurd suffering of the world and gladly choose anything else, praying for tongues of flame to dance over our heads and fill us with unseen holiness. But what he sang was different. Our pain not as hook but punchline. That in cleverness, freedom. We being enclosed. We being sung to. This being the song of the prisoner who has grown to love his cage.

David Joez Villaverde is a CantoMundo fellow and an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan. He is the winner of Black Warrior Review’s 2018 poetry contest. His work has appeared in Fanzine, Wigleaf, The Indianapolis Review, Tinderbox, Dreginald, and The Jellyfish Review. He lives in Detroit and can be found at schadenfreudeanslip.com