Living with Silence

- after "The Silence," Odilon Redon


This silence is a devotion
    we're trying to learn, but with great
        difficulty. Thin as milk poured into
the morning coffee; soft as the hidden heart,
    like bread, which hasn't yet hardened its crust.
        Such silence doesn't mean we're done
carrying the cargo of sorrow or misfortune;
    or that these eyes have been absolved
        of any more tears. Fortune doesn't smile
behind its mask, dark as the bottom
    of your oldest rice pot. Nor does it gleam
        like a finger-width's band of silver, or
the moon on a cold night. This silence
    is only itself, undecanted. We pour
        it out into little cups and drink it
every day, trying to do so without
    resisting. It doesn't take much
        to break it. Mere passing thoughts
are enough to turn it over like
    an hourglass: tip its particles into
        tumbling, swing the clock's hands around.

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