Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sound Thinking

It's raining this morning, and I find listening to it soothing. Sometimes I don't even know I need to be soothed until it is happening, and I feel a greater sense of calm come over me. Even the sound of the word soothe is like its own ointment. It's fitting that it rhymes with smooth. Maybe there is something about the double-o in the middle of words that has this effect -- the cooing of a baby, the cooling of a breeze, the hooting of an owl, the wooing of a lover.

I can think of a few more sounds that calm my spirit -- the crashing of waves against the seashore, the crackle of  fire in a fireplace, the call of  birds as they fly overhead, the wind as it whispers through the trees.

And I wonder how other things would sound if only we could hear them -- a seed as it sprouts, the sun as it sets, a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.

These thoughts remind me of the following poem. As I read it, preparing to copy it for this post, I am overwhelmed -- particularly by the last line. How could it possibly be said any better? But then again, that is what makes a great poem, a meaningful poem, a poem that you will never forget.

What The Dog Perhaps Hears
by Lisel Mueller

If an inaudible whistle
blown between our lips
can send him home to us,
then silence is perhaps
the sound of spiders breathing
and roots mining the earth;
it may be asparagus heaving,
headfirst, into the light
and the long brown sound
of cracked cups, when it happens.
We would like to ask the dog
if there is a continuous whirr
because the child in the house
keeps growing, if the snake
really stretches full length
without a click and the sun
breaks through the clouds without
a decibel of effort;
whether in autumn, when the trees
dry up their wells, there isn't a shudder
too high for us to hear.

What is it like up there
above the shut-off level
of our simple ears?
For us there was no birth-cry,
the newborn bird is suddenly here,
the egg broken, the nest alive,
and we heard nothing when the world changed.

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