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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 
Still remains 
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 
And echoed 
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

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