I would not have been a poet
except that I have been in love
alive in this mortal world,
or an essayist except that I
have been bewildered and afraid,
or a storyteller had I not heard
stories passing to me through the air,
or a writer at all except
I have been wakeful at night
and words have come to me
out of their deep caves
needing to be remembered.
But on the days I am lucky
or blessed, I am silent.
I go into the one body
that two make in making marriage
that for all our trying, all
our deaf-and-dumb of speech,
has no tongue. Or I give myself
to gravity, light, and air
and am carried back
to solitary work in fields
and woods, where my hands
rest upon a world unnamed,
complete, unanswerable, and final
as our daily bread and meat.
The way of love leads all ways
to life beyond words, silent
and secret. To serve that triumph
I have done all the rest.

“VII” from the poem “1994″ by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979–1997. © Counterpoint, 1998.

May you find this silence in 2011.


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts

6 Responses to Silence

  1. Catherine Petersen

    Beautifully said. I feel abudantly fed today by your reflection. The gift of silence is growing in me and bringing me to a new place in my life.
    Thank you, Catherine

  2. Emma

    That is beautiful. Reminds me of a poem I wrote last week:

    Crowd-infused silence kept me in peaceful isolation
    Speaking in nods and shakes of the head and nothing more
    My lips didn’t part no words would escape at my express command
    Inside my mind was the only conversation I wished to have

    The louder it got the quieter I became exiling them from my space
    They didn’t exist not for me I’d transformed into a phantomed mirage
    The noise they made dissipated into the air that changed
    A casual wind unseasonal warmth a non-winter turned into snow

    Nothing bothered me nothing encroached my mind I wouldn’t let it
    I just kept walking from place to place alone my eyes on my feet
    In this paradise of solitude I hoped to stretch out forever I went on
    Afraid it would end prematurely if I looked it too hard in the face

    I could have been anywhere typing on that humming computer
    As long as it was just me a verbal spartan I’ll speak few words
    You the only other person I take with me wherever I go
    Together we were silent in solitude not speaking from the same voice

    I am currently reading a great book on silence.

  3. sheila sherwin


  4. Thank you for sharing this. Beautiful poem. It sounds like something you could have written. May your 2011 bring you all good things.

  5. So beautiful, Laura. Thank you for that. The silence is what sustains me.

  6. Oh, this is gorgeous! I do love that Wendell Berry:) And I do love your writing, too! So glad you’ve shared your story with the world and continue to do so here. It makes the world richer. Happy Holidays!

Leave a Reply to sheila sherwin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>