Working With Silence

With Jorie Graham.

stone beach by river

Recognize this astonishment, this awe, this resistance to the hurry of speech. Its pressure signals the weight of what language battles. Here is the rupture, the interrupter; partner; opponent; interrogator; monument. Watch it.

To meet it on its own terms is to welcome some erosion. Each confrontation will put an end to the original witness, the one who meant to do the looking, and wrest from her womb a new creature, sharply aware of being watched.

When the word fists stop swinging, held behind the back, and the shouting mouth surrenders to its hold, what emerges? Here are the boundaries between flesh and time, sealed and open, the words we speak and those unspeaking us.


The above are notes while reading Jorie Graham’s essay “Some Notes on Silence” in By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry (2000), edited by Molly McQuade. The italicized phrases are Graham’s.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

2 thoughts on “Working With Silence”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: