April 16, 2014
Longing to Practice the Discipline of Silence

It is a holding back, an enormous force,

it coils with dreadful tension, this taut spring of my voice.

I mind the cup of each ear, how it gathers air, how the molecules

vibrate and bubble down into the soft tissue of my brain.

Receptive, I think, but the push of static volition

crackles like stray waves on the radio,

reception and interference, the barometric fizz.

When I was a child we’d tune the TV

to a place between stations,

stormy nights, and listen

to the hiss and crackle,

knowing an approaching tornado

would send its interfering signal through,

cause the screen to blare white,

the glare of danger.

We’d sit and wait all evening for disaster’s signature,

the telltale spark.

Storms are smell as much as sound, approaching,

the crackle of ozone in the nose: I am a hound for it: I push

my face into the night, the wettened wind,

suspicious. If I can smell

the air I’m safe. It is blue

with electric instances, then a sharpened green:

all safe, but late nights alone, now, I dream

of that hot and muddled green, the pea soup of it, lowering,

the world whipped sideways, birds

and debris flown to ridiculous heights.

That sky-green green, color of the weathered

copper courthouse dome, imminent.

The immanence of green, the clues I can’t see at night: so I taste

the darkness, hold it in. And there:

just there: that pitch of spiral, that is the silence

of it, the all-night wait,

just the moment before it breaks. This sky

splits inside me, shudders:

a wire that sings, the screen flash, the one

intake of breath before I say: this is it.

And then later, hailstones melting in the sun,

branches down everywhere, I smell the blessed,

black and fertile ground.

 

-Anne Haines (Monroe County)

 

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Anne Haines is a longtime resident of Bloomington, where she works as the Web Content Specialist for the Indiana University Libraries. Her chapbook, Breach, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008; individual poems have appeared in the anthology And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana and in numerous literary journals, both in print and online. 

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!

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