All brained up, I swallow words, hold my tongue for fear of being led by it. Just then: a blurt escapes. My voice throws me back into the world. My onomonopoetic bout, a sputtering, skipping, faltering vocal overflow. Up comes a projectile voice—ugh, bla, ack, ouw, hmf, gah!—and I savor the superlative. It’s as inevitable as a baby’s cry, a screeched resistance that prefigures linguistic authority. My summer hum settles into its genealogy: cry, hum, blurt, startled contractions before a word, speech that issues from voice not language.
Think of the terrifying groan of the Gorgon. Her name comes from the Sanskrit garg, a gutteral animal howl from the back of the throat. A huge distended mouth issues great howling winds, emits time itself. Do not kid yourself; there’s nothing pleasing about it. Gargle. Gag. Impossible to swallow. Its power to repel and repulse matches the power of a mother’s voice to soothe and seduce. Try to send your voice elsewhere, but it always leads to that old dichotomy haunting everything female.