In celebration of National Poetry Month, I pulled out my cardboard box of time-worn journals, notebooks, and folders. Before blogging it’s how I chronicled my thoughts, emotions, and insights. I haven’t written poetry in almost fifteen years, but as I shuffled through a stack of parchment colored notes sprawled with emotions captured in rainbow ink, I paused to contemplate one in particular– “Silence.”
Maybe it caught my attention because just recently a trusted, intuitive soul expressed her conviction of my gift for speaking. “But you’re too comfortable being silent,” she added, her eyes softly lit with tenderness as her hand splayed across her clavicle. Her sentiments invoked my thoughts to tumble as I weighed her insights against my own beliefs about myself. I don’t think many would consider me particularly quiet. Certainly not characteristically shy. But as I read the poem, “Silence” written by a much younger version of myself fourteen years ago I saw a budding adult struck with the realization she was chained in silence. But not the kind of quiet found in the absence of words or laughter. It was the sort of prison where my authentic self was locked up, convicted, and unworthy to roam freely in the world.
In my late teens and early twenties I was afraid to discover who I was, to look within. I carried so much shame. So instead I embraced voices of mothers, friends, and lovers–all eager to tell me who I was, and who I was only half-convinced I wanted to become. Still there’s a sort of freedom that comes in locking up one’s authentic self. For a while life feels light without the responsibility to plunge the depths of self-discovery and own a life course. But ultimately it leads to a soul death coupled with a whispering desire for purpose.
This poem was written at a time when I finally mustered the courage to listen to myself–my desires and passions. Even though it was tumultuous at first to feel each note that had contributed to the song I sang in that moment, I knew I was on a path of victory. I no longer allowed fear to stall the search for my truth, my voice, and my authentic self. And still I’m on this path, much farther along, but yet still in many ways learning to trust the wisdom and insight within that guides my path in truth.
An orchestra of emotions,
chasm of cares,
song of melancholy
Dances of passion with voices
sing disclosing desire,
Only I can hear these noises
experience and heart conspire.
scales and measures to creation,
hoping to reclaim the first chord
of this private melodic oration.
Sweet affection floods my soul.
An experience to none
my heart first laid hold.
For a song emphasizes each note
with variant weights and measure,
and exists not for one note but rather
the blended rhythmic pleasure.
Even as the tune pricks and pangs
the quality of desire
over chains of silence.