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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hood

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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