Sunday, September 18, 2011
The Sound of Silence
The human heart must be made of uncut diamond. Otherwise the events of the past several years would have shattered mine many times over. The losses pile up. I marvel at the toughness of my heart and wonder what can ever make it crack. If anything should threaten my currently healthy, happy children, that would be a force likely to pulverize earth's hardest substance. But so far my heart remains intact.
That doesn't mean that an occasional fragment isn't chipped off now and again. With each loss, my heart shudders mightily from the force. And witnessing my husband's suffering means daily chiseling.
Last night sleepiness overcame me. But it was the good kind. I was physically tired after a rare day out with friends, hiking in the Gatineau Park and feasting on a pot-luck lunch in the late-summer sunshine. Divine. I was lobbying for an early bedtime, so Michael was ready well before the usual ten o'clock. But we had left the television on and tuned to a 1969 documentary on Simon and Garfunkel, those balladeers of our youth, so after teeth-scrubbing and pill-popping, Michael drifted back into the living room. He sat perched on the coffee table right in front of the television. I curled up on the couch, trying to stay awake but drifting peacefully to the sounds of this famous duo performing their songs.
Then I opened my sleepy eyes to see my husband intently watching the screen and noiselessly mouthing the words to "The Sound of Silence", tears in his eyes. My heart lurched; a new facet lay exposed:
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence