Echo by Chelsey Clammer

There is something about my echo, something of which I cannot let go.

  • In that I hold my tongue to my lips, listening, snake-like to what is amiss.
  • The end of echos can never be reached, grabbed, acquired, or touched. My fingertips yearn for that moment in which it can collide into remnants of sound. The swipe, the graze, the convex arc reaching into the air in front of it. To force my finger onto a sound that wants to slip away. What would it sound like to touch an echo?
  • To have forced my finger in there, down there, in me.
  • I have forced my throat upon many toilets.
  • The hurls echo in my brain, the ripping of a throat, deafening.
  • How this is like an echo:
    • I was very hungry, very full of void, very incapable of ending.
  • Each toilet is the same. Each toilet holds my secrets. As where I remember more fiercely how my mother’s toilet did not flush all the way, than what she told me earlier in the day about her pre-me abortion. She confided, my body, my addictions hid, consumed.
  • About the echo: how the sound can never be grasped, and the actions never fully go away. And if I could grasp it, what would it say? Forgive? Regret? Move on? The things you think you yearn to hear.
  • Think of language as an echo, words reverberating off of themselves and answering their own unanswerable questions. The question, then the echo of an answer:
    • “Chi dara fine al gran dolore? L’oro.”
    • Translation:
    • “Who will put an end to this great sadness? The hours passing.”–Mark Z. Danielewski
  • How long does it take for the reverberations of my past actions to fade away? To finally fall?
  • I always wondered if my neighbors could hear me hurl, then inhale, the gasp of embarrassment lasting long past that initial shattering of silence. How I still hear it now.
  • Now, I hear the wind try to shush these thoughts so fiercely that even the shadows shake. A wind whose name I call when I shout STOP. How I want it all to go away. A wind that chills past my sinewy tendons. The muscles that wish to explode. How something here must move—out, beyond.
  • As where there is a void in the hunger. A bottomless pit of something I could never fill, nor name.
  • To run the bath water in hopes no one will hear.
  • “You’re only popular with your anorexia, so I turn myself inside out in hopes someone will see.”—Tori Amos
  • To have a goal.
  • What cannot be defined is how this sadness, these memories continuously crawl in.
  • I saw the moon last night—just a sliver of a thumbnail—rise above the mountain sky. The horizon of a black jagged line cutting up into a moment of an iridescent orange. And then the navy blue. And then the moon. Layers of almost-light. The moon so small in a sky that forever wants more, to have more light, to speak more eloquently, thoroughly of what shines within it. To have something to say for itself, for what fills it.
  • I remember the porcelain bowl at The Heartland Cafe. Two stalls, and I prayed no one would come in. There was a chip of green paint under the barely-there water, and I wondered at how the green arrived. Then. Thought: past, action: present. No one came in. I returned to the table looking away with blood shot eyes.
  • Please, I begged, let them believe there is nothing here to see.
  • There is everything here to hear.
  • The sounds of empty beat around my abdomen, crushed out my brain, sludged any thoughts into a goo of what to eat next?
  • Mashed potatoes are a sickly yellow.
  • Pad Thai is a sickly yellow.
  • My face bloated and yellowed.
  • Hello? Can you hear me? No one wanted to answer.
  • My gums receded.
  • My flesh screamed.
  • I wondered if anyone could respond to the echos of my actions, the sound of knuckle hitting teeth, of toilets flushing twice, of embarrassment roseying my cheeks. The aftermath of an attack. The war inside. Blood vessels burst. How my body spoke for me. Shouted out. STOP. And the void of my friends’ responses. Their stares staring away, the echos of their shifted gaze having nothing to say. This great sadness.
  • Time passes.
  • The sounds of my cries continue to crawl back.
  • As where I wish I were not so curious about that echo. As where though I cannot grab it, it continues to grab me.
Chelsey Clammer
clammer author photo 2Chelsey Clammer received her MA in Women’s Studies from Loyola University Chicago. She has been published in THIS, The Rumpus, Atticus Review, Sleet, The Coachella Review and Make/shift among many others. She received the Nonfiction Editor’s Pick Award 2012 from both Revolution House and Cobalt, as well as Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations. She is the Creative Nonfiction editor for The Dying Goose, as well as an assistant editor for The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. Chelsey also writes a weekly humor column for Eckelburg, and is also a voluntary reader for MemoirJournal. She is currently finishing up a collection of essays about finding the concept of home in the body, as well as a memoir about sexuality and mental illness. Chelsey lives in Denver, CO.