Oranges

Scent of a horizon.

There can be no contradiction between paired images, only connection, and so little that is true will conform to the expectations of available language. There is a certain sadness that smells of oranges––or nectarines? and it holds a horizon inside itself, complete with sunrises and sunsets that only one at a time may witness. The challenge is how awe wants company to verify its origin, as something other than madness. Lacking any, a witness is burdened with a weight that denies its own release.

Loud Silence

Sunset lake at midnight.

Like breathing, close; like something rustling in the leaves in the dark outside the window; the first notes of the world. I hear it, we say of this something, but reality is conditional, and faith, already fraught, has a way of returning any listener to the old refrain about the world and it’s too-muchness––so much, with us. A sensitive medium feels the artist’s hand, dissolving the last line into light, the gong that swelled the heart now a faint echo over the sunset lake at midnight.

A Joyful Noise

The transformation of silence.

How to speak, that what would live may live,

even if bruised. Even if misunderstood.

Death will come anyway, with its final

silence. Why rush its hand?

If fear is here anyway, let us use it. Your

silence will not protect you. There is

love here, even in war. And company,

in the refusal to swallow a tyranny 

of silence, the refusal to comply

in becoming the next casualty.

In becoming, may we live visibly

to speak, share, spread life

creative and continuing

in growth,

to find 

the others.

***

Inspired by Audre Lorde’s “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” from Sister Outsider. Italicized phrases are Lorde’s. 

Flesh of the Empire

Listening in the wake of colonization by noise.

When they came for the silence of our sacred, the colonizers hid their weapons behind badges of efficiency. Speed! They said, by way of greeting, planting flags in the flesh of our flesh. Waking from sedation, we took them in, saying, Mine! rather than Out!  

After that, movement meant aggravating wounds. A body learns to stay, shouting, Here I am! Forget the still, small voice. We thought at first of walking to one another with the stories we wove, but the invaders caught our song on the wind, and blocked that, too––for a time, anyway. Trespass of the mind became a punishable offense.

Consider concrete and a moving substance, how it alters the path. The shape of a river changes. You get wind tunnels. The dammed river becomes a reservoir, its former trajectory a wasteland.  Then what?

The living will move. What this does to memory remains, as the saying goes, to be seen.

We looked and listened. Hands reached and bones breathed. There was a whisper beneath the gale, saying, Rise. No one was watching, and we heard.

Whisper Songs

Longing for the living silences.

The silent places are gone now, but––I hear–– there are these anechoic chambers accessible through three sets of thick doors, behind three layers of thick walls, with fat grey foam over every surface. It’s so quiet inside that the hiss of blood in your ears is deafening.  So quiet that if you should say something, the sound has nowhere to bounce, and what you hear will feel like needing to pop your ears in a plane.

––Too much, I think. A body wants space, too; a sense of safety within the actual, living world, without having to be in a cell.

There’s the empty concert hall. Imagine an upper corner, a blanket and pillow. In there, you won’t even hear a bomb detonating in the city outside.

It’s not the grave I want, but living silence. Not outer-space, either, with its weightlessness and no air molecules to carry the sound of a scream. Please, just no rumble of truck over grave, no mid-morning leaf-blower.

In the Hoh Rainforest, in Olympic National Park, there once was a small square inch of space not yet affected by the noise of air traffic. It may be gone now.

There are underwater caves in the Yucatan, the Kelso Dunes at twilight, the volcanic patches throughout Iceland; a blanket bog in England, a crater in Maui, parts of Alaska, Big Bend.

The salt flats of Botswana are quiet too, they say. Except that I think the image of the lost lake must pain what is already sore with loss. 

Some are trying to designate refuges where the sound of natural noise buffers the sound of machine. There’s an Urban Quiet Park outside Taipei; there is Eduador’s Zabalo River. Let us hear water noises, squirrel, wren. A church at midday during the week. The low murmur of people chatting in a café would be fine, minus the blenders, the espresso machines, the crash rumbling of trucks on the street. 

They say you can hear the blue magpie in one of these urban parks. I don’t know the sound by name. I had to look it up. They say that deep in the jungle, a canopy of leaves and mosses can make the sound of water echo all around. 

When I was small, I would sometimes curl beneath a blanket on the couch in my grandmother’s living room. She had a garden with hummingbirds and blue jays around, and she’d exclaim over the occasional cardinal. She’d be quietly moving things in the kitchen, in the sink. I would hear the shuffle of her feet, the opening and closing of drawers, cabinets, the birds outside. I would close my eyes just to feel it better, like the tickle of breeze in the late afternoon, the soft sweep of kitten fur against skin, the sudden landing of a butterfly on a nearby surface.  I would hold as still as I could, knowing that I would eventually have to leave her space, and her, and do whatever it was that the adult world demanded. This posture was not unlike the one I would hold in the car while going anywhere I did not want to go, especially school, when I would press my face against the glass as the miles moved too quickly toward the approaching noise, thinking, Shhhhhhhh.