The Alleged Review wherein Ross Nervig reviews whatever he feels like reviewing.
She reached me over the dry mammer of window unit air conditioners. I sat on the fire escape in the hot night four stories up, wanting sleep, wanting a quiet mind. Getting neither. Her voice, like a violin but unmistakable in its pain, rose from a floor or two below. Rising out of white noise, a full grown woman’s lamenting wail. There was no confusing it. I wasn’t hearing a TV because nobody would air 45 minutes of choking sobs. Not in America, at least.
It was a mind breaking, a heart coming untethered from any rationale. Dolore cantabile. Who cries like this? Who has the courage to lay on the floor and eat their own tears and snot? I can’t. I think I’ve tried after a bottle of red wine, when I’d boiled every woe down to its existential pit but the saltwater stayed inside me and I could muster only a few curses before getting up and doing the dishes. Why cry like this? Weeping like the weeping I heard that night begs questions. The jilt? A death? A terrible mistake? Finances in ruins? A sickness that has no cure?
Her story—whatever it is—stopped mattering after a while. I didn’t need it because I could lend what was keeping me up to the sound. The act of listening felt at first incredibly voyeuristic until I was awash in it.
It was exquisite and surrogate. It ladled my problems out of me. It was the song of being out-revolved by the earth, the helplessness of being human and knowing not all is within our grasp to control. A lesser reviewer might make mention of animalistic cadence of her wildest moans, but it was pure human. I stayed with her for almost an hour and then left her still at it. I knew her rhythms and her ragged breath. I slept thinking theres no better soundtrack for the dark night of adulthood.
Front page image by Boegh.