On Silence

Essay 34

There’s a strange silence before anything important happens; we stand about like horses looking at our hooves. One moment one would waver but the moments pass by so fast, until you’re out there too running like the wind.

This silence sounds different from the silences of after, with their rewards and judgement, with their recovery and plans. The places we leave must fall awfully quiet, even if the BBC still calls them a metropolis. The people we meet go to sleep, and the world turns with so much care and without a sound.

There’s a storm in my street, everyone’s off to one beach or another, the taxis give you Sunday travel times for midweek. And the pages slip between my fingers inaudibly, and all the dreams get forgotten in the morning.

There’s a deep gap between what you don’t know how to say and what you won’t; undressing the matter with words, when the safe thing, the safest is silence. Lately, I’ve been thinking if there’s a silence that’s neither before nor after but something to stay with: as one comes unraveled by speech in the remaining wordlessness to build something new, something with no vocabulary yet just a beat, so faint, so easy to miss. I could unfold my life in that twilight of sound. You’d need to lean real close in order to hear it.