Friday, September 19, 2008

Poetry Friday: Silence

I read a Billy Collins poem about silence last night, and it made me think about the kinds of silence in a mother's life, too:

The silence of an angel, breathing rhythmically next to me in bed.

The mischievous silence: "They're too quiet."

The silence of fierce concentration; the silence of shyness.

There is the delicious semi-silence of secrets whispered and giggled over. And the booming silence of secrets kept that break mothers' hearts.

There's the silence of kinship, of knowing just how she feels. And the silence of not knowing what she's feeling at all.

There is the silence of listening to a heartbeat within. And the silence of comforting a heartbreak without.

There is silent counting -- the weeks and months until they arrive. And then, the quiet calculation of how long they've been with us. The panicked accounting of how short the time until they leave. There is the silence of a breath caught. And there is the silence of an embrace that encompasses all of time.

Billy Collins gazes on silence in his aptly titled poem:

by Billy Collins

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

(Read the rest of the poem here.)

The Poetry Friday round-up today can be found at author amok.


Anonymous said...

I rather like this poem, appropo of nothing:

Yat-Yee said...

The link doesn't seem to be working, but I enjoyed your descriptions of the different kinds of silences.

tanita✿davis said...

Hi Karen, the link is doing something weird -- repeating the http and the www, but I've read this one before, and I do love it.

Karen Edmisten said...

Yat-yee and Tadmack, thank you for pointing out the faulty link! I just fixed it.

Anonymous said...

I'm familiar with this one too, and love it. But I love your descriptions of the kinds of silence even more.

jama said...

What a beautiful post, Karen. Loved your list of a mother's silence as well as the poem. What a gift Billy Collins has. I've never read a poem of his I didn't like.

Mary Lee said...

I actually like your "poem" about a mother's silences better than Billy Collin's poem! (and I love me my Billy Collins, so take a pat on the back and a swelling of head!)

Karen Edmisten said...

Thank you , all, for the lovely comments! I was feeling a bit presumptuous, adding my "poem" above a beloved Collins piece, but you've assuaged my fears with the undeserved but highly appreciated praise! :-)

Sara said...

Such a lovely meditation on silence and motherhood. Really. Lovely.

One thing as a mother that I always struggle to relearn is that is it almost always better to go for that "silence of an embrace that encompasses all of time" than to lecture (which is my first, bad instinct.)