“Now the river rushes by, faster now, pushed on
by heavy rain on the far mountain we can’t see, breathlessly
saying what it’s said for so long we can no longer hear:
shh—one long lazy hush, its wobbly bubble
rising to break—shh—opening to a release without end—
never the same river, never the same never
or never again—hush now, shh.”
Gregory Donovan, from “Triumph of the Will as Underwater Ballet”
“About the dead having available to them
all breeds of knowledge,
some pure, others wicked, especially what is
future, and the history that remains
once the waters recede, revealing the land
that couldn’t reject or contain it, and the land
that is not new, is indigo, is ancient, lived
as all the trees that fit and clothe it are lived,
simple pine, oak, grand magnolia, he said
they frighten him, that what they hold in their silences
silences: sometimes a boy will slip
from him climbing, drown but the myth knows why,
sometimes a boy will swing with leaves.”
Rickey Laurentiis, “Southern Gothic”
A spring shower rushes over the sunken monarchy. Will it ever end?
The rhythm striking the window lulls me into a deep coma.
I hand myself over to the silence and flow into damp soil
so that in a year or two I can live in a cloud: my true sanctuary.
A faithful horse takes a Cossack toward town. Perhaps the rider
doesn’t know it yet: his death, like all languages erased from the earth,
will be laid at invisible feet. Even greater adventurers await the end
of the natural cycle. But it’s not up to me to judge.
I can only rain on the crying child in diapers, on carts
and burnt skyscrapers, on the tobacco smuggling route. I rain:
I don’t ask where the widows in black have gone. I cover everything.
like a transparent varnish. I rain. On a balance, on coffins
used for shelter. I rain down on the spine of the boy who will stand
before a line of sturdy soldiers, give and order, and the line will shudder.
“Fleeing in a foreign tongue
is longing for silence.”
— Aleš Debeljak, from “Without Anesthesia” tr. Brian Henry
“For quite some time I had been talking to her in her mother tongue, which I found all the more moving since I knew very few words of it. As for her, she never actually spoke it, at least not with me, and yet if I began to falter, to string together awkward expressions, to form impossible idioms, she would listen to them with a kind of gaiety, and youth, and in turn would answer me in French, but in a different French from her own, more childish and talkative, as though he speech had become irresponsible, like mine, using an unknown language. And it is true that I too felt irresponsible in this other language, so unfamiliar to me; and this unreal stammering, of expressions that were more or less invented, and whose meaning flitted past, far away from my mind, drew from me things I never would have said, or thought, or even left unsaid in real words: it tempted me to let them be heard, and imparted to me, as I expressed them, a slight drunkenness which was no longer aware of its limits and boldly went farther than it should have. So I made the most friendly declarations to her in this language, which was a habit quite alien to me. I offered to marry her at least twice, which proved how fictitious my words were, since I had an aversion to marriage (and little respect for it), but in her language I married her, and I not only used that language lightly but, more and less inventing it, and with the ingenuity and truth of half-awareness, I expressed in it unknown feelings which shamelessly welled up in the form of that language and fooled even me, as they could have fooled her.”
— Maurice Blanchot, from Death Sentence tr. Lydia Davis
Seconds before the explosion,
crickets were chewing the thirsty air with their legs,
thousands of them together: the air screamed.
Silence. A spark
could’ve touched the grass off.
He was thinking
of his mother’s forehead, furrowed slightly
as the bullet buried itself with a thud
in the temple of Chestnut, his childhood horse.
He must have believed the crickets
would put even them to sleep,
four gauzy cottonfields away:
against a leaning ash tree, half-cocked over his gun,
he fell asleep.
Seconds before the tunneled earth
flashed below him,
seconds before the sun broke its chains,
he was back in the barn again,
hunched into the hammock, gathered into his own arms;
each crumbled tobacco mote was drifting,
suddenly alive in the swallow smothered loft.
A moth lit on his shoulder.
Exploded into his ear,
and father jerked him up by the wrist—
think of family Bible leather, cracked, unkind—
he woke alone,
the sweating leaves burst into ash
where they found his father’s voice.
Hardly had the tents become lanterns
when the air was snatched
of him: feels your lungs expanding now, collapsing.
Hear it with him,
the first four notes of grandfather’s watch
chiming the quarter hour before they snapped,
roared into an ocean in his torn ear.
Just between us, the air kissed itself.
Kissed his entire body in sudden daylight,
a public gesture somehow made secret,
a sheet of honey soaking his woolen pants,
molding the coins in his pocket into a silver lumps.
Now that he’s lifted by a monstrous falling
from under this scorched wing,
we can feel his incandescence, wet, heavy hay
falling forever; at his body’s insistence,
we must believe the rain evaporates
as it broke, lifting the smell of the burning horse:
Lord, Lord, they are all free now."
It takes a certain kind of violence
to wrench yourself free. A certain shock
to make you quit talking and give that helpless
shrug, the first step in a dance that turns
faster and faster. Even accountants get dizzy
and wad up their checks. Even philosophers
begin to laugh.
Don’t be surprised to find yourself walking close
to the edge of a dock and suddenly tripping,
unable to keep your fists jammed in your pockets.
Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior Strandgade
“His highly intense nervous life, his acutely sensitive emotional being, flourished only in this world or extreme simplicity and silence, tones were what he loved and sought - the tones of stillness. He heard… stillness, and that was where he really existed.” - Julius Elias (via)