Kinds of Silence

Silence comes in different shapes
it only occurs to me tonight,
my kids tucked into their warm, soft beds
their dreams scooping them up
where the flashing carnival ride of
waking life had just let them off.

We all know the striking kind,
the sharp shudder of silence attending
a moment of awe,
that gobsmacked gulp that steals your breath
atop a wine-soaked canyon,
under a canopy of stars,
or witnessing your toddler nail the C chord
on her shiny pink guitar.

Takes me back to that momentary hush
in the delivery room,
even the doctors we met just minutes before,
they held their breath too,
counting the silent beats between birth
and the sweet release of her
first gorgeous cry.

Then, there’s the sharpness of that
stabbing silence —
when you hear the news
of a loved one’s death,
your mind hurtling through soundless space
like a stunned cosmonaut,
tumbling tumbling tumbling
before gravity rushes in
to reel you back.

And of course, we can't forget
the old classic silence, the one for due respect —
following a performance, a speech, a film, a buzzer-beater,
between that final note or word, or scene, or shot
and the glorious eruption of the crowd,
the beauty of what we all just witnessed
measured pricelessly by the weight
of the slice of silence
that follows.

And while we're on the subject of respect,
there’s the kind we try to forget,
that dull, aching silence
you know the one —
the kind that clings to the humid air,
that choking deafness hanging
between two broken people
who've got nothing left
to say.

Instead, tonight I’m celebrating
my favorite kind of quiet,
the one I'm floating in now,
on this warm summer night,
family tucked safely in bed,
it’s just me and this notebook,
maybe a glass of wine,
and if I listen real close —
I can hear that sweet, grateful silence
of no sirens inside
my head.