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Silent Retreat

in the quiet
of a silent retreat,
the midday meal
is an eerie repast
of shared isolation--
the sounds
of careful chewing
and the punctuation
of stainless flatware
are the sentences of
awkward introspection--
no eye meets eye
except in the short words
of glances--
all heads bowed
to the white
porcelain plates,
in supplication
to the bits of food,
knife and fork.

Someone said
that a four year-old's voice
is louder than a roomful
of adults
in a crowded restaurant.
I am beginning
to believe.

In the quiet
I remember
the fellow student
who swore off speaking
for the Spring semester--
self-penance for one-too-many
ill said words,
we later learned.
He suffered through
the questions
of “why?”
as a giant shrugging ear,
rising and falling
with the exclamation
of his eyebrows.

When there are
no words,
it is the basic motions
of touch
that rise up
as crocuses
on a barren
winter-gray lawn.
The nod,
the gesture,
a smile,
gain the significance
of Braille
or sculpture--
one hug
at once a greeting,

it is snowing,
trees piled white
as if giant candelabra spoons
in a sugar bowl.
Perhaps snow
is God's sweet insulation,
dampening down
the things
that catch the cacophony
of sounds
and throw them
quickly back.

the sounds stick
and hang
in giant pauses
where we are guests
in a museum of the moment,
walking about
the statue
of white Carerra marble,
mouths open
taking in the air
in audible draws
of breath.

14 Mar 98

© Copyright 1998, E. Granger-Happ, All Rights Reserved.

Contents - Lent, 1998

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