Saturday, June 21, 2008

Airport Vignettes

An Australian accent brushes past me on the moving sidewalk connecting lighting the way to terminal C. Tones of frustration sound into the phone, “Just be normal.” She coughs and repeats her plea, more forcefully though betraying her lack of conviction.

English isn’t her first language. As her arms flail I see how her voice was forged in liquid motions, fingertip accents, arms outstretched in intonations. I see how she traces the curvature of each note with her tongue, imagining the palm of her hand attenuating her meaning. I can’t help but be distracted by images of her small frame, shoulders slumped, pupils watching someone tell her how to choke out ugly droplets of static audio, how to adapt kinetic expression to sound waves vibrations. I want to ask her how to say assimilation in American Sign Language, but the metallic reverberation keep droning that sidewalk is ending.

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