Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Different Types of Silence: a collective list

The silence that lacks nothing

The silence that is not an absence but a presence

The silence of the street after a big snow; of a sleeping cat; of my broken furnace

The silence of remote stretches of Yellowstone Park in deep winter

The silence on the phone as a teenage boy asks a girl he has a crush on to the prom, awaiting her answer in 1956

The silence as you hold your breath, waiting for a balloon to pop; of birds when a hawk flies over

The silence needed by a piano tuner to bring notes back into agreement

The silence when you are not wanted; at the starting line, seconds before the race

The silence that used to be in libraries

The silence of appliances at rest; of the pitch dark in the middle of the night; of shared grief

The silence of the garden buried in snow; of the last little coal glowing in the wood stove at 6 a.m.; of all the day's silent moments put together

The silence of the sealed, stamped and addressed letter, sitting in the dark mailbox, waiting for pickup

The silence of your mouth opening and closing in shock

The silence in the house after visiting family drive away; of the back porch at 3:24 a.m.; of the tea kettle after the flame beneath it is extinguished

The silence once occupied by your laughter; of your lips on my fingertips; the silence after the tears

The silence between inhale and exhale; between the last muddled thought of the day and the dull inevitability of sleep 

The silence after the sigh; in the open heart that is full of hope; when the hawk has flown and the crows have settled

The silence of countless memories 

The silence of devotion; of a Cezanne still life; of the candle's flame in the dark; of swimming underwater

The silence between the last push and just before the newborn cries

The silence of living alone; of dreams; of dipping a brush into a freshly mixed batch of dusky blue; of waiting; of forever after

The silence in my mind during rare moments of meditation

The silence of my boots waiting at the bottom of the stairs

The silence of a great thaw; of a gigantic, sweeping, clattering gesture; of nursing a baby; of spreading cream cheese; of static

The silence of a quilter's needle

The silence after a party

The silence when I said "I'm leaving"

The silence of the dust just before the wind blows; of my heart in between beats; of a 4 a.m. full moon, when I am the only person awake to not hear it

The silence of the angel that is sitting on my shoulder; of the blood coursing through my veins; of the tears running down her face in those last moments of life

The silence of a space waiting to be filled

The silence between the punchline and the laugh; between "get set" and "go"

The silence after a kiss

The silence that is strained, peaceful, contemplative, deliberate, remorseful, gradual, angry, disapproving, empty, full, contented, appreciative, sad, dismissive, patient, enduring, relaxed, respectful, hurt, embarrassed, disappointed, accepting, compassionate, forgiving, uncomfortable, welcome, dreaded, embarrassing, lively, deathly

The silence of hundreds of nicotine-stained record albums from my dad’s collection that no one wants and that will never be heard

The silence of those moments, alone with my deceased mother, as she lay in her coffin looking radiant for the first time in many years

The silence of ink on the page; of a shadow behind the old barn door; of deep lampblack between stars; of the industry of anthills; of an idle hammer; of winter’s mountains; of heads bend over the algebra test

The silence of a bird-free winter day; of loneliness; of a daffodil about to open

The silence at night, in the winter, far from roads and houses; of the phone after I say goodbye and you hang up; of the cat walking after she lost her bells, again 

The silence just after the movie ends

The silence when I am the only one at work

The silence between footsteps in squeaky dry snow

The silence before the next hiccup; after hearing bad news; when you don't hear from someone you care about for a long time; when a car motor doesn't start and it's below zero outside

The silence in a room full of people during a crossword puzzle contest

The silence between loudspeaker announcements at the airport; between drops of a dripping faucet; between lightning and thunder

The silence of a Charlie Chaplin movie; of a fire alarm finally being shut off; of hearing loss; of the mind between thoughts; of longing; of being speechless; of the sky

The silence after the bowl is struck at the beginning of a Buddhist meditation

The silence when you imagine you can hear a pin drop

The silence between my blessed spouse’s snores

The silence when someone says something that offends your sensibilities and you don't say anything

The silence between the letters I type; between brush marks; between the notes; the silence between us now

The silence of an empty canvas; of things left unsaid; of things out of focus; of long, fall shadows; of swimming underwater; of an empty mailbox

The silence of my mother's name in stone

The silence after the children have left home

The silence after giving a wrong answer

The silence under a rock

The silence when I tell you I love you; the silence as you slam the door

The silence I breathe, lying under the stars; the silence I own

The silence of a broken harp; of the first night in a new house; of the last bus leaving the station; of a playground at midnight; of a sudden power failure

The silence from the children's playroom following giggling and whispers

The silence between our intertwined fingers; of my naked skin resting against yours; of a text message that says "I love you"

The silence of dresses hanging in the closet; of a failure to communicate

The silence of holding back

The silence of waiting for the kettle to boil

The silence after trust has been shattered; after certain truths are uttered; when there is nothing left to say

The silence of of my cats, hiding because they know they are going to the vet; of the piano before the concert begins; of my oven because I never cook

The silence of a secret glance; of a fawn in the far right field; of a creeping fog; of a blinding headache

The silence of the wheels on the path not taken; of unspoken forgiveness; of old photographs

The silence in the midst of a life-threatening situation

The silence perceived/remembered after deep thoughts 

The silence of the audience when an actor has touched them deeply, just before the applause begins

The silence of fresh challah bread baking; of red lips; of the hovering wind over tufts of grass

The silence that cocoons the ringing in your ears

The silence just before the crunch of a cracker

The silence of a forgotten song; of voices too far way to hear; of a bird singing on the other side of the window glass 

The silence of the Sahara; of the snowman; of the newly carpeted floor; of a new leaf pushing through the soil

The silence after the diagnosis

The silence when you ask your father for a loan; when the tipsy party hostess drops the birthday cake; when someone you don't love says "I love you"

The silence of the children in a circle when the scary story ends

The silence in the car when the cop asks "do you know what speed you were going?"

The silence you feel in your heart when you come across your discarded wedding ring

The silence of an unworn shoe and an undarned sock; of a folded scarf; of lily pads, floating; of unrequited love; of a still rocking chair; of false teeth in a jar; of mold growing 

The silence of Buddha in the woods; of Stonehenge covered in snow

The silence of uncertainty; of a hug after a flurry of words; of an empty cupboard; of routine

The silence right after the snooze button is indulgently pressed; right before a chance is taken; right before you say hello

The silence that should be broken

The silence after the last word of a good book

The silence when you realize your question will never be answered; when the lullaby is over; when the hacking cough finally leaves your body

The silence of non-motion

The silence before and the silence after

The silence of tears unshed and pain unexpressed; of lightning bugs among the reeds; of a dog house without a dog; of a shooting star; of judgment, heavy and forever getting in the way of compassion 
The silence right before you say "I'm Sorry"

The silence it takes to hear the words "I'm Sorry"

The silence of the bathroom mirror; of not fitting in; of not knowing how to ask for help; of dancing to no music; of the present moment; of a sunset; of prayer; of a blooming morning glory

The silence of good wishes withheld; of an unsolicited hug; of a surprise kiss 

The silence just before the coyote howls

The silence between rain drops; between a clock’s tick and its tock

The silence of a giant redwood tree

The silence of hope that won't be silent forever; of a rare moment in a big city

The silence sung about by Simon and Garfunkel

The silence between yin and yang

The silence of an empty mind

The silence of my mother's long-kept secret; of a blank notebook; of a prolonged daydream; of 3 crows staring right at you; of high tide and low tide; of seaweed and driftwood; of an unsharpened pencil

The silence before starting to write 

The silence of the house before I enter

The silence — oh happy anticipation! — when the storyteller opens her mouth, just before she begins to weave her tale

The silence before the baby emerges

The silence after I said what needed to be said; of an Adirondack cabin; of my brother, who thinks more than he speaks

The silence when you take out your hearing aids; when a hybrid car switches to the battery; when the semester ends

The silence when first awakening; when I am home alone; between the calls of songbirds; after a wave has crashed

The silence of closing the curtains and shutting out the night; of countries that no longer exist; of a determined NO, spoken only with my eyes; of searching for exactly the right word; of last week's flower bouquet, slouching out of the vase 

The silence between this world and the next; between zero and one

The silence that we all need

The silence of silence

Thank you to all the wonderful people who contributed to this list:
Alan Heath
Alexandria Crump
Amy E. Bartell
Andrea Staffeld
Antonia Matthew
Barbara Anger
Barbara Cartwright
Barbara Force
Barbara West
Bill Holcombe
Carol Bossard
Carol Clarke
Carol Kammen
Carole Russell
DeanalĂ­s Resto
Diana Kreutzer 
Donna Holt     
Dudley Paul
Gabrielle Vehar
Gay Huddle
Hank Roberts 
Judith Andrew
Julia Grace Brewster Rosoff 
Kathleen Morrow
Kimberly Bunker
Laura LaRosa
Lillian Tuskey
Linda Keeler
Loretta Louviere
Lynne Taetzsch
Margaret Dennis
Martha Blue Waters
Melissa Hamilton
Melissa Zarem
Meryl Young
Mieke Ruina
Mihal Ronen
Nancy Lee Koschmann
Patrick Robbins
Patty Flannery
Patty Little
Paula Peters Marra 
Peggy Miller
Phoenix Wiggins
Rachel J. Siegel
Randy Ehrenberg
Raymond Edwin
Roxanne VanWormer
Saskya van Nouhuys
Seraphina Buckholtz
Sharon K. Yntema
Stiller Zusman
Sue Perlgut
Summer Killian
Susan Koon
Tish Pearlman
Vickie Van Camp
William Myers
Zee Zahava