52|250's Third Quarter Review

Week # 32 – Silence

Silent Stream by W. Bjorkman
Unspeakable by Susan Gibb 

He makes no sound, no pant nor grunt. He woke me with a lover’s touch, his fingers speaking words a woman understands. It is a dream but no, I feel the warm breath on my neck, the weight and scent of a man that settles me slow and deep into my mattress, my room, my reality. My shriek is stopped by a hand and my body screams by bucking, pushing, shoving at the mass of him. He slaps my face.

“Who are you?” I say, but he slaps me again, so hard that I’m amazed at the gentleness of his other hand between my thighs. This man is complicated, I think; more conflicted within himself than what is happening here.

I moan. He grabs my neck between his thumb and hand. All right, he is no fool. He knows and hates the faking too. He slides inside me and if for nothing else, I’m grateful that my body has responded in its instinctual way.

The silence hangs between us like a world suspended. I imagine Earth orbiting without a sound inside the dark expanse of space. His lurching moves the bed as if the universe had suddenly gone mad and blown us down a black hole, spiraling out of sight–for I can’t see anything, can’t feel myself at all.

And when he’s done, no sigh of pleasure. I close my eyes and when I open them he’s gone. The bedroom door wide open. My soul ajar.

Tararuas by Duncan Smith 

Slow humid rain falling in the gloom. She leads the way up the track, about an hour to the hut perhaps, we should make it just on sunset. It’s darker in the bush, beech trees towering above us, a light southerly pushing through the tops. The raindrops are intercepted by the canopy but regroup into something bigger and more violent on the way down. I don’t want to put on my raincoat, it will make me sweat… and smell. I recall something about women having a more acute sense of smell than men.

Long day at work, late to meet her, not what I had in mind for a first date: she probably thinks I’m an idiot. I try to think of something clever to say, but her legs ahead are distracting, all symmetry and grace. Stop looking at her and think. It is beautiful here, shadows and grey mist, elbowed branches and gnarled roots. I lick the rain and sweat off my lips.

Soon we are above the bushline and cloud. The sun has just gone, leaving half-light and a gentle wind through the tussock. She turns to look back. Her face and neck have fine angles and shadows, and I glimpse a smile at the edge of her lips. She is beautiful in her element.

Misdemeanor Offense by John Riley 

It was a surprise they put me in a dormitory, not a cell, with fourteen sets of bunk beds along two walls, windows with no bars, and that for two days no one threatened me, the kid with Penguin classics under his mattress. It was not a surprise when, on the third day, the man sat on my bunk without invitation and told me without being asked he’d beaten his friend to death with a pool cue and still didn’t know why and asked without caring which book was my favorite. I showed him my used copy of Lady With a Little Dog except in that translation it was called Lady With a Lapdog. He said no man should be a lapdog. I agreed and told him the story. “Fuckin’ cheaters,” he said which made me think of my father and I told him about our drunken trip to Mexico, my dad and I, and how at fourteen I’d driven us over the Madres and through a town called Durango. It was a surprise that after I said Durango he stared a long time at the wall of men wearing green shirts and green pants waiting to see what was supposed to happen and whispered twice “Madres at Durango” and then said I should shut-up he’d make sure I was okay but I should shut-up and the prisoners, so unlike me I was certain, schooled away, leaving behind an endlessness that didn’t last.

Proof of Silence by Randal Houle 

One of the first senses a fetus develops in the womb is hearing. There must be a moment where there is none, followed by the newborn’s cries – a primal plea to never again immerse us in soundless oblivion.

I once obtained a set of noise cancelling headphones. My ears received nothing from the world around me. Where my ears were unable to hear, my mind took over, creating sound to fill the void.

But nature gifts to us small glimpses into an unknowable world.

Can you hear it?

It happens every time you sneeze. A moment of solitude for the soul, or what I like to call soulitude. Monks spend a lifetime attempting to create this euphoria, this epiphany of nothingness, this nirvana.

Mathematical Form:
Those that succeed, never come back, else their words nary escape. The waves of sound crushed in an inevitable black hole, an absence and a merging at once. (For absence of all = “o”; and merging of all things = “m” thus, “om” must be the mathematical equation to this problem.)

Behavioral Evidence:
There must be a cocoon of soundless oblivion waiting for us all. One from which not even the mind can recover. (You are free to refute this although soon enough we will all know.) I offer as proof: the final act of mourning people everywhere, the moment of silence – like a desperate attempt to connect with the void and a longing for soundless oblivion.

In the name of the Lord by Alex Lockwood 

It used to be a game. Like I guess every kid in town (in the world?) church bored the pants off us. So we messed around. After prayers the pastor with those shot-to-death eyes would say ‘in the name of the lord’ and the congregation would wobble and say ‘Amen’. But in the little gap of breath down where we stood we made our own prayers.

In the name of the lord. Poo. (We were kids.) (And while we were giggling, Amen.)

In the name of the lord. Stupid. (Amen).

We got older and braver. The words were pussy unless we did something too. We knew better than our parents that words were no good on their own. They needed acts.

So it was In the name of the lord. Poke.

There were times when the pastor used to whip the congregation up. Just kept going and going after prayers with that line like it was some holy mantra. All these mothers and fathers of our friends swaying with one arm in the air, repeating amen, amen. We left it late so it sounded like our words came first.

In the name of the lord Pinch Amen. In the name of the lord Amen. Stamp In the name of the lord Amen. Punch In the name of the lord. Amen.

And at home father would whip the buckle of his belt at us. Silence, he told us, In the name of the lord. Then we started hating god.

Cows in Silence by Catherine Davis 

A cow wanders onto a roof and falls through the skylight. It is a calamity, but such an innocent mistake. Mightn’’t you wander onto a roof once upon a full winter snow in Vermont?

A cow climbs a gravel mound in Virginia, perhaps to see what it can see in its little corner of the world. Not much gain in elevation, alas, and then that sinking feeling. Up to its armpits when I spy it from the road. Good job on saving that cow, my friend tells me later, after calling its owner to inform him. You know Junior’s just going to go whack it over the head with a hammer, and there’s dinner, don’t you, he says.

Rushing dizzy into headlights out of the late rural blackness, a cow, stock still staring, in the middle of River Road. Collision averted by the skin of my teeth. Few seconds further on, reconsidering, I u-turn. This cow is booking it like nothing you’d believe when I catch up. Cow herding by Volvo, but then it turns into a field. Mississippi 911 is blasé: where is it now? I don’t know, I say, but it’s fast.

This cow is curled by the fence a few feet from the sparkling aqua pool where I swim. This cow is white, all its friends are white too. Beauty beside beauty within beauty — this is France.

All over everywhere, cows train in a single direction across vast pastures, harking to some silent, inner compass.

Figurines by Robert Vaughan 

Today my mother broke every dish in the house. The Lladro Three Wisemen were the first to go. I didn’t mind, in fact, I even helped her trash those Asian figurines that loomed on the former glass shelf unit in our living room. She’d bought them when she took a Feng Shui extension program at the local college.

The whole thing took less than an hour, and when we’d finished, mom said, “Fuck your father, let’s get in the Explorer and drive to Florida.”

My sister was starting to decoupage ash-trays out of ceramic plate fragments. “Don’t do that, Frieda,” I said. “You might cut yourself.”

Before we reached the interstate, Frieda fell asleep. In the quiet twilight, I thought about the Wisemen, broken dishes, shards of rubbish. Just before leaving the house, I’d snatched a Fu Dog head, stuffed it in my coat pocket for protection. Now I rubbed it, feeling the jagged edges at its broken neck.

I glanced sideways at mom, but she stared straight ahead, jaw clenched. I wanted to ask if we would ever come back, but I knew the answer.

Back to Wk #31 – Missed the bus
Forward to Wk #33 – Spontaneous combustion

One response

  1. Pingback: . Spinning . » Blog Archive » WRITING & LITERATURE: thirtynine

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