Silence is easier to bear when it isn’t a memorial

“The capitals of the world are burning.” ~ Li-young Lee

In fact, she doesn’t mind the quiet after everyone has left. Doesn’t want to turn the TV on. Picks up the paper flung at the doorstep at 5, and promptly tosses it in the recycling bin. The quality of silence is different at different points of the day, or of the year. At midmorning in spring, like a film that’s just beginning to settle on the surface of milk as it cools in a cup; or in summer, the barest crinkle of plastic protecting the furniture, as one shifts one’s thighs. Later at night in autumn, like the smooth insides of a pear after the knife has sliced it in half. She listens to how the air cycles, warm puffs of heat coming through the vents. It’s nice sometimes to just press one’s spine to the wooden floor. But of course none of this lasts. In the next room someone is turning dials to listen to the radio— people marching in the streets of Warsaw, sounds and cries in a different tongue. Mixed all together like that, it’s impossible to distinguish young from old, who might have been invoking the name of God while trampling women underfoot. Elsewhere, in a little southern town, the walls and floor of a church have been painted over, all in white. The report describes white chairs with gold lettering, one for each of the dead; just one red rose on each chair. A halo of perfection over the site of carnage. She can’t understand why none of the reverence which goes into these acts of memorializing is ever given before people are maimed, burned, beheaded, shot.

And in Babelplatz square,
underground: empty white shelves.
20,000 books once burned there.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Sylvanian.

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