“Armor” by Julia Cannell


 

I walk by in a world seeped

with raw noises that drip onto me

like packets of tea when I lift them out of a cup,

and when I draw the curtains

no one can see me.

The curtains muffle the sound, hiding me

with experience taught by a child’s lifetime

of slinking around corners

so the ever present yelling was never set in my direction.

 

When I was little I used to hide

in the curtains of my house. Long curtains

that hung all the way to the floor,

made of a rich suffocating brocade;

a dark pomegranate red.

Behind them

I could see only shadows and the deep color of the cloth

kept from fading by the second layer of cotton

hanging at my back.

They were thick and held still

by small weights

sewn into the bottom hem.

Their heaviness made the cloth press

into my face and at first they were

claustrophobic,

like the water of the lake

before I knew how to swim

and my cousin thought it would be funny

to push me off the raft,

but then the breaking noises would start

and a shriek

and after the silence I realized I was safe.

No one could see me,

no one could hear me,

and the cloth fell around me

like a shield.

 

I can still see them.

The curtains.

When the room is too loud or too full

I reach out for the drawstring

and pull,

the thick fabric falling closed around me.

Behind the wall of color I am protected

from the world

and people look through me like I’m not there

or only at the face that I painted on the cloth years ago.