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Monday, September 26, 2016


It's TABday.

Silence (a meditation)
It seems like a shame that there’s only one word
for silence.
Silence isn’t just the interval between notes
or the space between quotes.
Silence is somewhat more than a hole
in a bowl of sound.
Sound and silence define each other
    like matter and space
    like yin and yang
Silence, like sound, has textures, intensities, durations,

As a child I learned the uses of silence
the cloak of invisibility
or at least inaccessibility it confers.
I learned to read silence like a grazing animal
in a land of predators.
I could tell which silence was the calm before the storm,
which were cold and which were warm.

Think of the exasperating silence of pantomime
    the indifferent silence of strangers
    the threatening silence of enemies
    the hostile silence of withheld praise

Consider the silence after the battle
    when sound has been exhausted and the combatants rest
    and reload their arguments with fresh clips of invective
    and fit silencers to their big guns of Shut the Fuck Up!

I know the horrified silence that follows violence
    the moment after a fist collides with a face
    the fastball strikes a batter
    the child falls from a swing
    the weapon is fired
    the silence of time in suspension
    and heartbeats frozen in panic

But there’s also reflective silence, reverent silence, pregnant silence
    the creative timing of actors, comics, musicians
    the frightened silence of intimidated people
    the empty silence of exhaustion or depression
    the vow of silence, the code of silence
    and silence in the courtroom

I’ve know silence that lets words in but not out
    silence like a black hole, which draws communication in
    and crushes it
    my father’s silence
    an isolating, out-of-control silence
    the silence of despair
    the words that would never be heard or understood

I struggle to escape the cloak of silence
    the drape of the cape concealing the shape
    of the goddess of silence
    whose name has never been spoken
    lest it be broken.



  1. I'mean working on a rosh hashanah speech. The point of it is that, among all the many many words we say that day, perhaps the most meaningful are the silences in between. Thanks for posting this poem. I needed to have it right now.