Posts Tagged ‘silence’

Silence did not say come sit with me.
Did not say I miss you. Did not wonder
where I have been. Silence did not
call me sweetheart, did not make
me promises, did not scold me
or scorn me or bid me closer in.
The invitation it sent was blank,
the most beautiful letter
ever not written.
I responded right away,
though it was, perhaps some time
before I noticed every part of me
was splaying like a lily, petal soft
and open beyond what the bud of me
dared to dream. And all around me,
the silence did not say good job,
did not say please stay, did not whisper
a word as I opened into it,
wider then wider.

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On Prayer

for Mark Primavesi
Prayer is what happens when we listen, and wait, beneath words, for the outline of heaven and earth to emerge.
            —Wayne Muller, “Nourished by Prayer”
Today prayer is the silence
in the snow-deep meadow.
It’s the gurgle of the ice-choked river
that cannot be heard unless
I am completely still. Today,
prayer is not to, it’s not for,
it’s something I am
more than something I do.
Prayer is even the sound
of the logging trucks on the highway
as they brake rounding the corner.
It’s the rapid shush, shush, shush
of my skis in the track as I climb the hill.
It’s the sizzle of onions in the oil.
It’s the hitch in my breath before I cry.
I’m astonished, today, to find
there is nothing that isn’t prayer
when I am aware it’s an invitation
to be completely here, to open;
it’s a call to meet it all
with the love that asks nothing from me
except that I give it and receive it.
Every single thing can be prayer.
Even the siren blaring by.
Even my own familiar voice
as I listen into the silences
for whatever words come next.

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Now I know there is a sacred cathedral
made of unspoken love,
a most beautiful cathedral  

built of generous silence,
a healing sanctuary created
by open hearts that reach out wordlessly.

I have been living in this cathedral
that your love built, and I am changed.
Now I trust loving silence

is a generous response
to another person’s pain.
When I am alone, I am not alone.

When you, in your own home,
open your hands as if in prayer,
I feel your hands holding me.

Your compassion touches me
the way light slips in through stained glass
to touch a face.

The pure hush of your hope
arrives in my heart like plainsong—
more breath than voice, as holy as any syllable.

Thank you for the ways your thoughtful silence
has lit in me thousands of candles
as I meet the darkest hours.

Now, I can’t unknow this: I trust love,
how it flourishes in the vast spaces
across miles, across time.

Such sweet, intense healing perfume—
like lilies on an altar—
the scent of your loving silence

as it opens me.

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What did you want to hear
when you knelt at his grave?

After you spilled your own words
into the afternoon shade,
what did you think you might hear
when you listened?  

By now you know the gift of listening
is greater than the gift of sound.
By now you don’t expect his voice.
You know my voice by heart.

I am not the sound of loss,
but the sound of infinite presence,
which touches equally
the living and the dead.

And I am what holds you as you speak.
I hold you as you say nothing at all.
In your listening, you join me
in the most intimate of conversations.

You rise. Together, we walk to the gate
then through the gate,
and long after you’ve left the grave,
I am with you.

In fact, I am the one thing
that will never leave you.


How do we fall in love the world, even when it feels difficult? In this 20-minute poetry reading, I explore this in poetry, followed by a brief conversation and Q & R. Hosted by the wonderful Larry Robinson. If you want info about more monthly poetry readings, AND/OR if you want to be a part of Larry Robinson’s daily poetry list (sharing the poems of others) you can write him and ask to be included at Lrobpoet@sonic.net

Poems from the reading:
The Letter I Never Wrote to Pablo Neruda
Making Breakfast with Dolly
No Slam Dunk, But
Though I Knew Love Before
It Comes Down to This
For the Living
You Darkness by Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. Robert Bly

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One Translation

tide of your breath
the only poem
I need

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One Midnight Rendezvous

when the silence
waits for me to meet it,
how can I sleep?

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Because you are gone,
I will never again stand
in your doorway and listen
to the sound of your breath
as you sleep.
I can remember the way
it used to calm me—
the slow, even rhythm
that proved you were alive.
I used to laugh at myself.
As if you wouldn’t be alive.
How farfetched it felt,
the idea of your death.
Now, I hear the absence
of your breath everywhere—
everywhere is a doorway
where I find you are not.
And so I listen.

Sometimes it seems as if a silence
is breathing me,
and somehow, you live in that silence.
I don’t know how it works.
I only know that since you are gone,
sometimes listening feels like communion.
Sometimes when I am very quiet,
when there is no sound at all,
I hear you say nothing.
It’s everything.

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At the Church

Come with me, he said,
and he led me up the narrow stairs,
then led me up more narrow stairs
until we arrived in the small sacred nest—
a tiny square room with tall stained glass windows
and two small couches and the kind of silence
one longs to meet—the silence that says,
sister, I have been waiting for you
to climb the narrow stairs to find me.
The silence that says, now that we have found each other
even when you leave,
I will come with you.

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Ode to the Echo

Sister of silence, you give back to the world
the shadow of every sound you are given.
You reshape the air to unsharpen the shout.
You unshrill the scream until it’s quieter,
then nothing at all.
There is no sound so harsh you can’t soften it.
And come song? You re-sing the melody
so beauty will linger like the rich shimmer inside a gong.
Not once have you said your own words.
Not once have you intoned your own tune.
Not once have you heard your own voice
or spoken your own truth.
Not once have you lied.
Not once have you made a promise
you could not keep.   
Sometimes, when I am brave,
I try to echo you, which is to say
I let silence enter my inner walls,
where it bounces in me like sound in a cave
until all I hear is the resonant repeat
of the most ancient of languages you speak—
silence, silence, silence.
There is no part of me uneroded,
no part your waves don’t touch.

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So I light a candle
and though I am hundreds
of miles from you,
I say your name
into the flame—
your name
and the name
of your beloved
who is gone—
these the only
syllables worth saying.
Then I hold silence for you
the way the earth
holds the ocean,
the way a canyon
holds wind,
the way a broken heart
holds another
broken heart.

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