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Into the Silence


1.
The last sound heard before the silence
Wrapped around my flesh in wisps,
Was the shriek of frozen ambulances
Carved in sharp, revolving red.
Then two holes in my skull sealed shut,
And on my tongue, I heard the tang of brass.

At first, a ringing whine rose high and faded far,
Then bells began, each dun and laced with smoke,
And merged with walls of wind on water raised,
And  bloomed high in white, white only, drifts
Of falling snow that softly falling
Blurred beneath all shapes of sound and speech.

Music’s memory remained, and moving lips
Became the only signs of sound that I could see
And all my mind stormed not with silence,
But with dark brushed deep on deeper dark
Within which all stars died, and dying threw
A single trace of song beyond all song.

It moaned and chittered, groaned, and sighed.
It grinned at me, inscrutable and blank
As shells evicted by the sea are spurned
By waves and parch above the sand,
Polished first by dust, then honed by rain,
Into white basilicas of bone.

2.
Made new, I loved large gestures.
Marked furrowed face and curl of lip.
Memorized the signing hands that stripped
My half-guessed comprehension bare,
And learned, at last, to wait upon a glance,
On small words scratched upon the slate.

As days to years enlarged their rule,
All records writ within my skull were smudged,
All songs and music drifted off to send
Pale emblems of their realms as tribute
To that stone that once had formed a throne,
Crowned now with unsensed pleasures shrugged.

All treasure spent, all gems decayed,
All metals melded into dust, all trace of walls
Where once the filigreed firebird sang,
And drums of heroes’ skins were stunned,
Were now but shadows strewn as faint
As lines of light on planets seen from space.

And then, with time, all that … erased,
And sands and seas swarmed over all,
And ruled at last alone a globe of frost,
Of ice, of snow, of sheaves of glass,
Until along that farthest strip of polished shore
One distant crystal glinted, gleamed, and chimed.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rob De Witt February 13, 2021, 8:45 PM

    So, so beautiful; I’d have to be able to write like you to describe its effect.

    And I can’t.

  • Lance de Boyle February 14, 2021, 1:12 AM

    Just wow!!

    That is some “and then….”

    And then, with time, all that … erased,
    And sands and seas swarmed over all,
    And ruled at last alone a globe of frost,
    Of ice, of snow, of sheaves of glass,
    Until along that farthest strip of polished shore
    One distant crystal glinted, gleamed, and chimed.

  • jd February 14, 2021, 5:35 AM

    Yes, very beautiful. I am curious about the time that has
    elapsed between this poem and the event (your “death”) itself.
    Thank you for this and for many of the links you provide that
    I would never see otherwise.

  • jwm February 14, 2021, 7:04 AM

    I have a basket full of superlatives. Not one is adequate.

    JWM

  • Vanderleun February 14, 2021, 12:56 PM

    jd — This poem is not about my death. It came to being from an entirely different source.

  • Uncle Mikey February 14, 2021, 2:05 PM

    Sometimes you read something and you sort of bask in its afterglow for a while. Beautiful

  • Kristin February 14, 2021, 8:54 PM

    Gerard, This:
    “ As shells evicted by the sea are spurned
    By waves and parch above the sand,
    Polished first by dust, then honed by rain,
    Into white basilicas of bone.”

    Thank you.

  • James ONeil February 15, 2021, 10:52 AM

    I suspect both you & I would have enjoyed being born a bit earlier, Gerald, say in Hemingway’s day.

    I can imagine you war corresponding or telling novel fishing tales, and see me sitting in Sloppy Joe’s.

    Actually the latter is easy as I’ve drank at both as a young teen (As a tribute to Ernest, whom, of course, I admired.), the one in Havana and the one in Key West.

    Key West, with a fake ID and at the Sloppy Joe’s in Fulgencio Batista’s Havana, an ID didn’t make no nevermind.

  • Dave February 21, 2021, 7:41 AM

    I’m watching a grapefruit on the counter.