In any life there is a time to speak – clear and strong and true. Hours and minutes when your voice will be the only thing that can deliver you through to what comes next. When coming clean is the grace that serves and saves. When you must unleash your truest story and stand tall and true in the aftermath.
But in any life there is also a time to keep quiet, spaces for words that have not yet found their fullness, or where the speaking of them would bring hurt that would serve no purpose.
There are times when truth telling will lead you down a path toward a door you know is best left closed, regardless of the sweet temptation of the opening. There are backwards glances filled with the bittersweet melancholy of regret, and the words trapped in throat that have passed the time the universe gave for their expression. There are interactions where the energy required to set things straight would cost more than the setting straight is worth.
There will always be questions that must remain unasked, and things known but left unsaid. There are spaces where silence must carry the day, because language is powerful and yet entirely and frustratingly inadequate – and nothing could say what needs to be said, and so to say nothing at all is the only sensible thing that remains.
And these times too, hold power and deserve reverence.
Listen closely love, even the deepest silence carries its own sweet wisdom.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
Sometimes, at the end or the beginning or deep in the middle – those silent spaces demand a reckoning all heir own, and they itch to find voice, and a safe space to surface. A place, in their own quiet way, to become.
An incomplete lifetime of things I have not said aloud.
I really, really, really hope you don’t fall in love with me. This would be a spectacularly bad idea. Especially right now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I want nothing more than a small cottage. A weeping willow hiding a front yard hammock. Streaming light and hours upon hours to write. I do not want any of this with you.
There is a plea trapped in my throat. It is one word. Stuck on repeat. You. Youyouyou.
You are cute. Like really. And funny and smart and wow. I think I want to kiss you. Please don’t tell my girlfriend.
My greatest salvations have been right at the center of my deepest sins. I cannot apologize anymore for the ways I have hurt you. They have been the saving grace of my own survival.
You make me feel giddy. Like my butterflies have butterflies. Jesus, I hope you say yes.
When she one day has your baby, it just might kill me.
In the center of my empty, it is teeth on bone I remember, and I am filled with longing.
I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. Until the end of my days, I am sorry.
In what world of male entitlement do you exist that makes it okay for you to touch a stranger like that? I am not property, nor do I need to qualify my no. The patriarchy has not served you well, you chauvinistic asshole. Fuck. The Hell. Off.
I want to kiss your tattoos. All of them. You have a lot of tattoos, in so many delicious places. I hope you don’t have plans later. This could take a while.
When I see a penny on the ground, before I make the inevitable wish, it will be to you that my mind travels, and I will remember.
All the you's in this poem are not the same. All the me's in this life are not the same. Walt Whitman said he contained multitudes. I am my own multitudes. And if you are all also multitudes it makes tremendous sense why we can’t quite get ourselves lined up to finally get together. I lie awake at night wishing we could get back together. We will never get back together.
I sometimes dream about the rasp of your five o’clock shadow against my cheek. I look for substitutes just to feel this again. None of them will ever be you.
I will never tell you where I hide the chocolate.
To me, you – and what we shared – will always be the definition of holy.
Will you ever go home so I can just be alone? I am far more enamored with my own company than I will ever be with yours.
I want to twist that curl of hair that falls over your eyes around my finger. I’m obsessed with it. I’m scared you’ll think this is strange.
In some parallel universe, one existing outside of time, I believe we are what we could have been.
More than anything, I’m afraid I’ll never reach beyond the confines of this small life and step into all that I know I could be. More than anything, I’m afraid you don’t want me to. More than anything, I am afraid it will take me years longer to find out for sure.
Oh. We’re talking about you again? Gee wiz, how fun. Let me settle in here. Get comfy. History tells me that this is going to take a while.
I want. I want. I want. Please.
I will always think I am too much. Or not enough. Or both at once. I wonder if anyone will ever see through that and know that I am neither and both, and that it’s okay – either way.
Are you sure you’re not gay? Goddammit.
Where’d you learn to be such a goddamn asshole? Seriously. You. Fucking. Suck.
Come home. Comehomecomehomecomehome. Please.
You are a better writer than I will ever be.
I see you sometimes, barely contained in your own skin. I see you pushing against the walls, feeling for a crack or a sliver or an escape hatch. One day you’re going to blast out of that safe little life you’ve built for yourself. I want, quite badly, to be there when you do. Please, say that you one day will. Perhaps, if you do – I will be waiting.
It all the ways that truly matter, it will always be you.
In the spaces inside the silence, in the depth and breadth and weight of these spaces, it is sometimes true that entire lives are lived. Inside of the silence we love and we lose. We hurt and bleed and rejoice and become strong. We fight, and we lay down arms and either surrender or walk away.
Inside the silence we find truth. We wither and we bloom. We grow into and out of people and relationships and ways of being and entire lives, both lived and unlived. We learn the boundaries and edges of ourselves. Inside the silence we discover the wisdom of choice. Of choosing, again and again, what we offer to the world and what we keep close and just for us. We learn that there are seeds that will only germinate in quiet. We come to know the voice that speaks without words or sounds.
We get comfortable with the tenor and timbre and cadence of the voice with which we will one day speak aloud. We discover her resonance and we do battle to honor her and save her and bring her to life, again and again. We come to call her our knowing, our intuition, our gut. We honor the wisdom of all that can never be said.
Inside of the silence, we come home.
Tell me, of the spaces inside your own silence. How have you learned to trust in those spaces? Do words live there, or music or colors or just shadows and light? Share, if you wish, in the way that feels safest to you. Leave your name behind. Take a new one if it feels right. Post it here. Write it in your journal. Close your eyes and name the silent truth within your own body. Send me an email and know I will keep your truths as close to my heart as my own.
Above all, honor the wisdom of your own silence. Know that it is true and strong and whole and good. Know that it needs no explanation or justification. Know that it is what it is, and nothing more or and nothing less. Know that it is everything. Just like you.