“Now the next movement begins. Now the music starts again.” (Sara Hovda on Interlude)

Web Graphic (1).png

Sara Hovda is a contributor to Half Mystic Journal’s sixth issue, interlude. She was born and raised in rural Minnesota. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Nimrod, Nashville Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. You can find her online at SaraHovda.com and on Twitter @SaraHovda. 


We asked three of our Issue VI contributors to share with us their personal definitions of interlude: how it is formed, where it has been, what it could be. Here is Sara Hovda’s vision of the keystrokes of transitory—the movement in the rest—the inhale before the storm…

Any ending sounds like it could segue into an interlude, just as each interlude feels like the song could have just ended. Which is to say: I told my doctors last November that I was transgender, that I needed to start hormone replacement therapy right now, or the anxiety, depression, and dysphoria would be too much for me. I would kill myself to make it stop.

I’d wanted to wait until my mother passed before I came out. I didn’t want her to think she’d failed in raising her son. I didn’t want her to disown me because of her religion. I wanted that song to end before I began a new one. But after the end of another relationship in which I’d failed to be man enough, didn’t want to give a good dicking, my brain couldn’t process anything but the need for a change. Someone was crashing on cymbals inside my skull, over and over, and I had to choke it. Yet I found that when that crashing stopped, instead of silence, all I heard was the strumming of a guitar. Simple chords, quarter notes, a Bon Iver song, whatever. But the music continued.

There’s a quote by John Ashbery, from the poem “Syringa,” that I’ve long held close:

[…] probably the music had more to do with it, and
The way music passes, emblematic
Of life and how you cannot isolate a note of it
And say it is good or bad. You must
Wait till it’s over […]

I’ve felt that truth in my bones for a very long time, but I don’t quite agree with it anymore—or at least with the last sentence. Maybe a single note tells us little, but you can pick out the mood in a chord progression, the dissonance between two sounds, between the brain and the body. I knew what was too grating to listen to even before I could describe why. And I know that, from the day I took my first hormone pill, the music was much calmer.

It’s been only seven months since I started anti-androgens, quiet grace note that it was, and almost six since I began estrogen. This will likely be the longest and most well-defined interlude of my life: I’ve been practicing makeup (eyeshadow is my favorite thing now), learning about hair removal (electrolysis hurts), and trying to feminize my voice (I cannot wait until the day I stop getting called sir on the phone). It’ll be years before I can entirely pass, but that’s my end goal.

A few weeks ago, I wore a dress outside for the first time, and I was called missat the convenience store. I’d put everything into my appearance, into passing, that evening—so it was a good note. I was on my way to the wedding of two good friends, both transgender women, who were themselves in the coda of one part of their lives, ready to begin another song. Or, maybe they see their transitions and their relationship—all of which began around the same time—as interludes leading up to their marriage. Either way, now the next movement begins. Now the music starts again, the ending morphs into an interlude morphs into new notes. Never a silence that stays.

Sara Hovda’s poem “Another Song”, along with twenty other pieces by contributors and three columns by the Half Mystic team, are compiled in Half Mystic Journal’s Issue VI: Interlude, a stunning collection of contemporary art, lyrics, and writing dedicated to the celebration of music in all its forms. It is available for preorder now.