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.
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
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.
When the room is too loud or too full
I reach out for the drawstring
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.