a moveable feast, by Celeste Jackson

a moveable feast

THE OTHER MORNING, I heard two women speak in a tongue I know. yáʼátʼééh abíní. aoo’ yáʼátʼééh. I walk slower and turn my head to listen to their mumble. Full stops and throat clicks. When I hear women speak, I think shi’má sání dóó shi cheii. I retrace the memory of those words with my mouth and walk to my office, trailing fingertips across white walls.

My partner is on the computer – the keyboard clicks, and I think it’s too loud. Finger taps. álázhoozh álázhoozh. I change positions in my chair about three times; stand up and walk to the door; walk back to my desk; move the chairs in order; snaps my fingers. ayóo chʼééh déyá. I’m tired? That doesn’t seem right. Irritated, my partner tells me to stop—he’s trying to work, and I’m making him anxious.

I settle back down in the chair and pull my feet to the top of the desk. I stare up at the ceiling. Sometimes, I think I’m not in the right place. I slip—from one space into another; one tongue to another. I drift here and there, wondering where I should put all the heavy things I carry:

shimá bi jaatłʼóół ayóó ndaaz. I have seven pairs now. I don’t wear them.

shizhéʼé saad yee shich’į’ haadzíí.’ díí éí shił bééhoozin.

I haven’t spoken in a while, but when I do, I will think about home. When I do think about home, I miss the dirt; the non-smell of cars; the people; the noise. I have parts above and parts below. Some pieces are over there and some of them are here. I can hear full stops and throat clicks – the sounds make me think about how women speak. I make their words into pictures:

łeezh                            from desert

tsin                                          to forest

tó                                                         now ocean

I hum a little; move my head from side to side. I am still, and I can still hear finger taps. Restless, I stand back up and walk out of the room. Barefooted, I tiptoe pass open doors down the hall where I hear the same two women speak familiar sounds. I want to eat their words. I am hungry to take them with me when I move.


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