Village of Voices, a short story by Kate Niebauer
The long table invites the entire village; a polyphony of silent-self-speaking voices will gather. Come, sit, share, we will eat and drink together.
The Maiden of Knowledge is the first to say, “I know that I don’t know all there is to know and I long for this, for the experience of knowing, be it through my head or my heart or my belly. These are the ways through which we know.” And all the voices hmmm’d and hawwww’d.
Then the Warrior of Action stands tall out of his seat and says, “I am a man of few words, so I’ll say only this, choose your words well for they set things in motion.” Again more nods and mumbles as the village voices considered this contribution.
The Lady of Silence and All Things Sacred raises her glass, red wine-stained lips, and with a voice like a cool summer river flowing past warm sand says, “listen to the space between words, there lives the greatest gift of communication.” The room was quiet for the first time since all had arrived at the long table. It was a beautiful silence.
Quietly at first, then with gained confidence, the Prince of Pleasure speaks, “Relax, exhale between sentences, taste the words on your tongue, watch closely as they land into the listening, then enjoy the tickle of delight from that well spoken moment.”
“Yes!” chimes in the Mistress of Passion, her thin cream voice suggesting sex and surrender, “and laugh, giggle, guffaw let the words leave you with a rush of freedom.” It was becoming quite a meal, a feast for the village of voices, who so revel in these discussions.
“Ah, hah” roars the King of Conundrums, his shoulders thick and broad, “I say play with these words as they coast through your thoughts, they are like gold sunlight filtered through dead trees still standing. What is compassion? Is it pain or pleasure? Can this be loved by that?” Quizzical looks crossed over several village voices as they crinkled their letters and scrunched their punctuation into new and curious expressions.
The Primal Priestess slowly, with a voice like silk tied closely around a woman’s throat, closes the evening with these words, “we have two ears and one mouth, I believe that they should be used proportionately.” Both laughter and chagrined coughing followed this remark, for some voices were quite guilty of an imbalance in this matter. There was so much to be said, they thought, why must silence be always revered. But these voices remained silent, they knew the wisdom in these words.
It was time to eat, the voices felt hungry. Food arrives steaming hot with thought. Plates overflowing with desires untold, unfinished inquiries, cups filled with wine from travels through time, and hors d’oeuvres made from reconsiderations of the past and hopes for the future. It was a mighty meal, inspiration brisk with every bite.
Kate Niebauer – www.kateniebauer.com