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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Silence - Billy Collins

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

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house-
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.


Silences, even if equivalent in decibel level, are not equivalent in the weight we assign them.  Some silences are tense, worried silences, like the silence at a sporting event after an injury.  Some are serene, like the silence of the moon.  Collins exercises his great gift here, of making something we all experience clear in plain, uncomplicated language.  The poem is poignant without being sappy, and contains hints of emotions like fear, joy, and heartbreak.  I feel like breaking the silence much further would ruin the effect, and create afterwards, "a poorer silence."

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