Like Going Home

New Years Eve 2017 

a piece by WILD WMN Nicole  Hennessy

The sound of me whispering

the shower steam

still fresh around me

the door closed

Trying to memorize poems

sounds like chanting

my own ancient secrets

only I know


And by ancient I mean

however old

I am.


In a new auditorium, I sat with poet Tom Kryss

I wrote a book about him and his rabbits

seven years ago

and it stuck, our friendship

one of few effortless relationships

that’ve morphed into family

ever in my life


I’ve always been more of a lonely

only child

magnetic to some

but roaming

or selfish


Quietly, we waited for Halim El-Dabh’s memorial to start


He was a 96-year-old composer

born to hear the sun, leaves,

particles of soil

knew where streams and rivers were headed

or our souls were


I wrote a story about him seven years ago –

“The Frequency of Color”


It began:

The air Halim El-Dabh sucked into his infant lungs

was laced with sound.

The scent of roses lingered at his nostrils,

and their frequencies dripped from his ears


as he watched his mother

sever petals from their thorny stems,

turning them into jam.


Feeling the vibrations of his surroundings,

his tiny hands drummed on an empty water jug

as he gazed over Cairo's landscape,

the music fermented in his consciousness.

Conceptualizing sound,

El-Dabh's then-11-year-old mind

applied it to composition for the first time.


His first musical piece, Misri-yaat, utilized clusters –

similar-sounding keys simultaneously –

in order to increase the song's vibration

rather than drown it in pools of its own resonance.


A poem read the day of his memorial

said Halim spoke of being 4,000 years old

a descendent of pharaohs

we know


Walking back to the car with Tom,

through the light dusting of first snow

and the miracle I’d successfully parallel parked,

I joked:

“How often do you get to go to a memorial

for a 4,000-year-old magical composer?


I had to go home

said I felt bad for not staying longer


“Don’t feel too bad,” Tom reassured me,

thanking me for taking him


We drove back to his trailer

The same one I thought I better not go to

the first time I was scheduled to meet him


I told myself if I couldn’t go to his house

I couldn’t be a journalist,

so I went


It was like going home

every time since.


Tom first met Halim

when I was asked to read an introduction

at a performance of his color notations


I was hung over I think

My dad came with me

my husband came with me

Tom met us there


I pulled clumsy scraps of paper

covered incoherently with vague notes

out of my purse

And read them

aware of the horror on all the faces

facing me

Then I said something unfunny about how I’m a mess

and sat down.


We went back to Tom’s house.

I can still remember flashes of

what we all looked like then


I love that day

love that I messed up an introduction

for a mystical, brilliant spirit


How me it is


And now sitting here,

whispering these things as I type,

I hope he hears me


And that I can hear all the rest

of what I have to say

Or have said before.



Nicole Hennessy is a mastermind always scheming big ideas. She is currently working to launch Universal Eccentrics, a creativity and positivity incubator for artists and communities. She previously cofounded a free art and literary publication, Miser Magazine. Nicole is also a writer for Brooklyn-based SPDance’s A Chance to Dance team, which works internationally to empower vulnerable girls, women and kids through dance. In addition, she is a board member for the Winter Warmth Mission, which works to get warming items and shelter to individuals sleeping on the streets. At the root of the chaos, Nicole is a wife, mother, freelance journalist, poet and dreamer.