silence: broken

The man who lives in the apartment upstairs has a wooden leg. His dog has a little cart with wheels, strapped onto his body where his hind legs used to be. In the early mornings, the man and the dog chase each other over the hard wooden floors, and fight over a bone.

I’m just speculating.

There’s no such thing as silence. Right now I hear the high chimes of glass being poured into the recycling bin, and the rumble of the council van. The river’s white noise, rain on leaves, and the birds’ whistles. Distant voices, footsteps on the stair. The click and pop of the kettle, cooling.

I read recently a beautiful essay by Kathleen Jamie, about a trip to the Far North. She says that there she came across a silence beyond silence. And within it, her mind was suddenly clamourous with thoughts, a kind of panic, rushing heart. I would like to hear that silence, just once.

The other kinds of silence I know all too well. The silence of things left unsaid, words unwritten, dances stilled, songs stopped in the throat. Those are the silences that hang from my body like a coat, a heavy coat, too heavy to do more than shuffle around in. Those are silences I would like to shrug off me, like letting a coat slip from my shoulders. It would fall to the ground and make a sound like hundreds of pieces of cutlery dropping onto a stone floor. After that, I would speak, and tell you how I really feel.

4 Replies to “silence: broken”

  1. I enjoyed this. Not sure I have much to add but you reminded me of this old poem which I thought I’d share:

    The Clearing

    I could be a great writer if I
    could just get this
    incessant buzzing out of my head.

    Then I could concentrate on the thoughts
    and get them down
    but I can’t because of the buzzing.

    I don’t know quite what the buzzing is –
    it’s simply there –
    keeping me from the words in my head.

    Sometimes it does stop and I scribble
    down poems in
    the silences in between. For me.

    There’s no room there for anyone else.

    8 December, 1997

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