Chewing Words

noun. verb. adjective. adverb…they're all tasty in my book

Still

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There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone

There’s that scene in the film The Piano that is like a postcard I have put up on my bulletin board, behind the ticket stubs and business cards and fortunes from cookies.

The scene is fraught with that high pitch that is usually only achieved with the right mix of cinematography, acting, and story. They’re leaving New Zealand. Ada mutely asks Baines to throw her piano overboard, a request made as she contemplates a life voiceless – no ability for speech, no ability for music.  Catching her foot in the rope, she is dragged underwater as the piano descends, deeper and deeper into the brine. There is that moment when you are not certain if she is going to sink herself along with the piano. And then she kicks her shoe free and breaks the surface again.

But the movie ends with the echo of an alternate ending, the road not taken. That snapshot of watery silence is the one I hang in my memory box. And it’s one I’ve pulled out today along with the poem that ends the movie, Silence by Thomas Hood:

There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave—under the deep, deep sea,
Or in wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hush’d—no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox or wild hyæna calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan—
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

It’s raining tonight. It has all day. Evening has rolled into my house, me lost all day in the contemplation of an endless cup of tea and a computer screen, recovering from yesterday’s crying jag and spell of melancholy that pulled me by my ankles and down into its abyss as I kissed and waved my daughter good-bye, leaving with her father for a week-long visit to his family. It wasn’t even the leaving that hit as hard as the hissed words and reminders of failure as I drove them to my parents who took them to the train. I didn’t realize how incompetent you are. And such a disappointment not just as a wife, but as a woman. Bells clanged in my head, warning signs to shut the gate, shut the gate! You damned, fool, woman, shut the GATE! Too late, alas, those black words scurried past like shadows, leapt into my mouth, and skidaddled down my throat to lodge firmly against my heart. Ow ow ow! Such cold, little fingers that poke & prod and know just the right nooks & crannies to screw in the pain.

There is so much implicit in the short phrases and deliberate words he spoke to me. They speak of one’s very core. My competencies, my abilities as a wife, my (desirability/femininity/sexiness/empathy/intelligence) as a woman. They speak also of a man who has, in spite of a 10 year history, so completely severed his emotional ties to me that there are no qualms in practicing a bit of smack-down on my head. YOU. ARE. WORTHLESS.

And guess what? All day yesterday I struggled against the maddening, emotional fricking deluge that sluiced through my body, a physical act that tore out these huge, gulping, hyperventilating gasps for air. It was so, God-awfully, melodramatic. I felt so stupid. I felt 12 years old.

A friend called and told me if I didn’t get out of the house and go visit her, she was going to come and get me herself. So I yanked my hair back into a clip, dried my eyes and ignored the puffiness, put on red lipstick & a red scarf over my funereal black attire, and drove to her house. Where I spent all day with her 4 boys, her husband, her visiting brother and her, taken into their midst like a stray. They made me tea. They fed me. They taught me how to play poker. I won everyone’s chips in a last ditch, devil-may-care, all-in effort with a 3 ace hand. I left at midnight, unable to sleep again until the early morning hours. But able, finally, to breathe in my own house without gasping for air.

Today I have felt like I am recuperating from a hang-over. Choosing my own silence over the warmth of friends. I am too prone to shattering. Those dingy little fingers of his words still stab at my soft spots, but they’re less insistent than yesterday when I needed the distraction of someone else to stop the pressure.

I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel prepared. I just feel tired. I look in my memory box and pull out the postcard of a body suspended by a rope to a piano, under the deep, deep sea…There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

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Written by cr8df8

December 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I’m glad, that I am not divorced … – but I can understand, that sometimes it is a must to divorce – if there is no more acceptance. and of course, after crossing that river, we are searching for new human beings, who are at least fair …

    frizztext

    January 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

    • Frizzt, I didn’t believe it would come to this, not after so long & a child & all the responsibilities. And I also recognize it must be difficult for him as well, but it’s obviously not something we talk about. He can’t/won’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be getting a divorce, I suppose.

      His lash-out came from a place that I imagine underscores all of his pain and his anger, so I know better than to take it so personally. But it was intended to be personal. And it carried a measure of hurt that was excruciating. Which is dysfunctional, I guess, but also real.

      cr8df8

      January 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

  2. So many similarities to my own marital dissolution and emotional life during that time. It brought back bad memories – but that’s all they are. They don’t define who I am. You will be better someday soon.

    Snoring Dog Studio

    January 3, 2011 at 4:06 am

    • Welcome and thank you, Snore (<– ok, I love being able to call someone Snore! But I better not be too much of a wiseguy as I've been called Chew…hey! A band name, Snore & Chew…good heavens, I digress…).

      As I have been digging into blogs, I keep finding the same undertones about divorce. I wish I could find some men who write about this, but I don't know if they have the same need (as women seem to) to expunge in quite this manner.

      cr8df8

      January 3, 2011 at 9:38 am

  3. I’ve been thinking a lot about quietness and how difficult it actually is to come by. I was reminded today by another blogger about T.S. Eliot’s poem Four Quartets. The fifth verse in the first quartet, Burnt Norton, is one that calls to me particularly today:

    Words move, music moves
    Only in time; but that which is only living
    Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
    Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
    Can words or music reach
    The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
    Moves perpetually in its stillness.
    Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
    Not that only, but the co-existence,
    Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
    And the end and the beginning were always there
    Before the beginning and after the end.
    And all is always now. Words strain,
    Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
    Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
    Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
    Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
    Always assail them. The Word in the desert
    Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
    The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
    The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

    cr8df8

    January 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

  4. nice thoughts (and picture) about the topic SILENCE!
    thanks for your comment about language / your conversation with a military chief …

    frizztext

    January 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm


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