Heather Kirn Lanier



"This is my form of yelling."
— Fashion designer Edmond Newton, watching his runway show.


My form of yelling is to swallow. The yell travels the body's length, implodes.

The gunman's form of yelling was to finger the trigger, then fire. Five times in a deserted parking lot.

The victim was once a baby I held. Twenty years later, a cop held him in the lot as he looked up, up, up into the stars of Pittsburgh.

Let's call the victim the boy, although he grew older than boys.

Google will show you his mug shot. See there, the boy's name tattooed on his neck. See there, his dilated eyes.

Memory's form of yelling is to protest with blurred photographs: he, the bottle-fed baby. He, the bunny-eared toddler. He, my nephew, from whom I learned how flimsy our bodies are when we begin. At age twelve I heard, Hold the head like so.

The cop didn't yell. He filed paperwork.

My mother's form of yelling is to plan the perfect funeral. The prayer cards might feature crowns.

The boy, did he yell? No one reported as much. A neighbor recounted five gunshots. The pathologist found three in his chest. He died on the asphalt. Stopped breathing in a strange cop's hands.

Here's a fact: The boy's form of yelling is was sometimes to poke his forearm with liquid singing. You can blame that if you want to. You can say, but of course.

The news anchor doesn't yell. She flashes very white teeth and says violence has increased in Pittsburgh.

What happens to your love when it is bent into a headline?

Yesterday we heard gravitational waves for the first time. One wave: an island-sized heart beating into a canyon. The other wave: the chirp of a bird in that canyon, echoing back.

The universe doesn't have to yell. The universe holds objects so massive they bend the fabric of the space-time continuum.

If two people dance around each other, they will cause ripples in space-time so miniscule no scientist could measure them.

I envy the fashion designer. I want to make dresses. I want to sew floor-length gowns from the fabric of space-time. I want to wear them and waltz the boy back to me.

My form of yelling is to kneel in a church and refuse to pray.

The gunman needs a muzzle. A yoga master. A head chopped off.

That's the ancient form of yelling: revenge. Creaky as a guillotine.

I sat vigil at the boy's birth, eyeing the hospital clock. He came out after midnight a little blue. He left this life just a little tipsy.

We don't know why he was killed. We don't know who did it.

My mother's form of yelling is to clean a hard surface with bleach.

If he and I now danced around one another, could we still ripple the space-time continuum?

No. The ghosts have no mass. The ghosts are outside the years.

He emerged in 1991 on a December night. He was blue and loved and love. He was asked, by way of a smack, to scream.

We all start there. A baby's form of yelling is yelling.





Something terrible happened about which I didn't think I'd ever write. I watched Project Runway instead. Edmond Newton was a finalist on the show; he had a great smile, and he liked to wear tuxedo T-shirts and trucker hats. He was standing next to Tim Gunn, smiling and watching his collection move down the runway when he said what he said. You can hear a recording of gravitational waves [here]