The Music that Emerges from Lack of Life (But that Refuses to be Death)

by Rowana Miller


We jerk to dance to nonsensical jigs, winding our ways through whispered waves, don’t we? And we keep onswaying even though the music has faded years ago. It has bowed too low or cut itself too thin to survive, butour ears—mostly your ears, but sometimes mine, too—still strain too deeply.

The music, the music, why are we all sleepwalkers to the music? With our experimental banging (which welabel with pretty syllables, honeyed dusk and greyscale musk), we are in a perpetual state of awakening. It slipsoff our rugged shoulders, the music does; it shatters on our hypnotic concrete. We murdered the music, don’tyou understand? You murdered the music.

I can still feel it, though, snaking through its essence in smoky funnels and billows of shame. And I know that(between jagged breaths and uneven pounding upon the unceasing materialist conformity) I said that it’s dead,and it isn’t there, so maybe it’s a grand hallucination. Can I make a bed out of these soft needles; can I remain in the wilting cloak or the melting clock of the philosophical cesspool?

(Still, the overwhelming cloudclaws scrape my ears and tear at my fragmented kneeskulls—)

I am rebuilding the universe in this near-collapsing void. It is bursting with the opposite of silence—not noise,no, not noise, but a coated moat of saccharine sound that is not quite what loud is to quiet—and it is lonely here, surrounded by all of this nothing. The words stack themselves inside me and they want to leak out.

There is a frantic frenzy of blown dandelions and pulsating veins; there is soot and dust and the embodiment of terror caked inside of my cemented lips. The universe is slow without the music, the music, the ripping tearing deadly choking music, or maybe it is fast—I don’t know—because I was never there without the music before. But it is such a vast emptiness now.

Monosyllabic chanting is the pounding zoom-in-zoom-out like the seizures of the fire-capped mountains. It ist he anti-music, the death that is the life of the backward, and the universe has been flipped. Somehow the yanking pulling pounding urgency is the tempo of rightness here in this overworld.

And then I hear the music, the music that is the scratching and the squeaking and it needs a dancer to oil it but it’s there, the music is there, the music is back, and don’t you dare tell me to replace my melodies with lyrics because you won’t ever see a lyric in my new universe. My new universe has the music and so it is Correct.

Maybe I will see you here. Perhaps you will come dance with me.

Author Bio: Rowana Miller is a high school sophomore from New York. She has won regional and national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, her op-ed was published with an Editors’ Choice Award on the Teen Ink website, and her articles have been published in local newspapers throughout the United States.