Voice

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak….it was born in the moments when we accumulated silent things within us.” ― Gaston Bachelard

Lately I have been playing with a metaphor for the changes I have been witnessing within myself: that certain people (human and furrier) have rearranged the furniture in my head (or possibly heart). What I had not really considered is that the different things inside me might have more or less import than others. Bachelard’s comment suggests that some of the things themselves are silent and equates that with our being unable to speak, so a silent thing inside leads to silence outside. So is the flipside of this idea that loud things lead us to speak loudly?

This makes a lot of sense, especially if you look at internalized oppression. In one person, that kind of institutional wrong could be held tightly silent on the inside and lead to a keeping-your-head-down kind of silence or a shame-filled silence; in another person, it could lead instead to rebellion, activism, or some other form of proud rejection of the wrong being done and the ideas behind it.

I think, though, that other “things” are a bit more like cats: sometimes purring, sometimes snoring, sometimes quietly patting us on the face to wake us out of a dead sleep or a crazy dream, pointing us in the direction of the cat food, the pragmatic necessities and the sweet varieties that life offers on a daily basis. These are generally not things that require yelling or even singing; they certainly do not demand our silence.

So then, if I return to my idea for this blog, that poetry can be sublime, ridiculous and useful, I also return to what sort of speaking poetry can do on a given day: give voice to the things that do not dare speak, tune the angry things to a frequency people will be able to hear, and hum simple tunes to keep our voices warm and ready to say the words that are still slowly making their way toward articulation.

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