He Finds His Voice, Forgets It Again… by Mariel Glass

There is an old parable about a man in a lighthouse, but I have forgotten how it goes. It begins, “there was a man who came to a lighthouse.”

I do not know why I am here, other than that I have always been here.

Beneath the cliffs, I hear voices, wailing from the rocks.

A kind of snow blindness.

Tracts of white space like voids of stars bursting in the chest.

The terror of being alone, unable to speak…

Opening and closing, the great valves of the sea.


The parable of a man who has forgotten the taste of sunlight, the smell of the water… who realizes after a long time that he inhabits someone else’s memory, tries to speak with someone else’s voice, tries to keep someone else’s head above water –

I do not know the sound of my own voice. If were to speak, I would hear another.

The loss is plain, unbearable, cold. The images will shatter us if we hold them inside too long. Mermaids’ voices, burning like phosphor.


I was born near the sea and I have not left it. I do not remember my mother and father. I did not long to be born. Yet I am sure that the voices that whisper to me are not my own, the voices of the dead I once knew. Am I too a voice… or am I keeper of the pale light-shell of the dead?

The parable of a man who lives in an unpeopled world. He finds one day that he too is no longer a person… I forget how the rest goes… Songthroat of the waterwind, something about stars, the way she died… the sound of her voice.


Absence, like water, and it folds and rushes down upon itself, too, like water, and she is everywhere, but the sea takes her, rips her away from me- like loose seaweed torn from the rocks, she calls back to me.


The parable of a man who was once a singer, whose voice has been drowned in the sea, turned to water.

A black wind crumples the sand. Her breath is inexhaustible. The wind rakes itself back through the cold waves. One-legged sandpipers fold together over the water… I whisper something, call to them, but they cannot hear me.

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