There are stories waiting to be told inside of voices inside of spirits that haunt me. As a child, when I heard them, I would shudder. In waking life, they would speak to me in whispers and sometimes scurry across the room – voices like small rumbles of dust and floating particles to grab but never feel.
My mother checked my eyes, but it was the doctor who announced me as legally blind prescribing me sight like all others. No longer seeing the creatures’ sounds, the voices shifted to my sleep. We Americans call them dreams. They’d chant sometimes; sometimes they’d cry. Often there were feet, running atop prickly grass, escaping some type of danger. There was a trapping sound inside of their moments of connection to me – once they grabbed my attention, the urgency for me to listen was paramount. “Listener, you hear me,” was my message.
My grandmother transitioned when I was a young girl, and then the voices stopped. My mother’s aneurism and father’s disappearance shortly thereafter left me alone and the solace came at bedtime. In the cushion of my folded futon mattress I found my grandmother’s spirit (or she found me). My grandmother’s presence reintroduced me to sound and taught me how to hear spirit voices.
At 27 years old, I began this project, Her Saturn Returns, whose mission was to document the lives of queer women of color who were turning 30 or turning 60. The documentation project turned into a collection of short stories, essays, blog posts, video, audio interviews, transcripts, and as a result of the MFA in Fiction at Queens College, a stage play, Saturnistas, whose first act was performed to a full house in a small black box collective theater in NYC, WOW Café Theater, of which I am a member. Her Saturn Returns interviewed over 50 women on their Saturn, and the overwhelming conclusion for what they found in during this tumultuous time, was a connection to spirit, a practice of listening, the ability to move through the world, guided by spirit. The HSR project taught me how to listen to the spirit voices I would hear.
For the new year, which voices will you hear? Which will you conjure, call upon, and whose will you orate in your work?
Happy New Year to us all, may you consider your ancestors intentions, stories and voices when creating your resolutions, counting down, and falling forward.
To Being our ancestors stories!