AFTER SILENCE (for Rachel Carson) …

By Neil Gaiman © | Seasons on seasons. The spring is signaled by birdsong coyotes screech and yammer in the moonlight and the first flowers open. I saw two owls today in the daylight, on silent wings. They landed as one and watched me sleepily. Oh who? they called. Or how, or how who?Then they leaned into the trunk into the sun that shone through the tight-curled buds, and vanished into dappled shadows never waiting for an answer. Like the sapling that buckles the sidewalk and grows until it has reached its height all of us begin in darkness. Some of us reach maturity. A few become old: we went over time’s waterfall and lived, Time barely cares. We are a pool of knowledge and advice the wisdom of the tribe, but we have stumbled, fallen face-first into our new uncomfortable roles. Remembering, as if it happened to someone else, the race to breed, or to succeed, the aching need that drove our thoughts and shaped each deed, those days are through. We do not need to grow, we’re done, we grew. Who speaks? And why?

She was killed by her breasts, by tumours in them: A clump of cells that would not listen to orders to disband no chemical suggestions that they were big enough that, sometimes, it’s a fine thing just to die, were heeded. And the trees are leafless and black against the sky and the bats in fatal whiteface sleep and rot and the jellyfish drift and pulse through the warming waters and everything changes. And some things are truly lost. Wild in the weeds, the breeze scatters the seeds, and it lifts the wings of the pine processionary moth, and bears the green glint of the emerald borer, Now the elms go the way of the chestnut trees. Becoming memories and dusty furniture. The ash trees go the way of the elms. And somebody has to say that we never need to grow forever. That we, like the trees, can reach our full growth, and mature, in wisdom and in time, that we can be enough of us. That there can be room for other breeds and kinds and lives. Who’ll whisper it: that tumours kill their hosts, and then themselves? We’re done. We grew. Enough.

All the gods on the hilltops and all the gods on the waves the gods that became seals the voices on the winds the quiet places, where if we are silent we can listen, we can learn. Who speaks? And why?Someone could ask the questions, too. Like who? Who knew? What’s true?And how? Or who?How could it work?What happens then?Are consequences consequent?The answers come from the world itself The songs are silent, and the spring is long in coming. There’s a voice that rumbles beneath us and after the end the voice still reaches us; like a bird that cries in hunger or a song that pleads for a different future. Because all of us dream of a different future. And somebody needs to listen. To pause. To hold. To inhale, and find the moment before the exhale, when everything is in balance and nothing moves. In balance: here’s life, here’s death, and this is eternity holding its breath.

After the world has ended; after the silent spring into the waiting silence another song begins. Nothing is ever over, life breathes life in its turn. Sometimes the people listen; sometimes the people learn – who speaks? And why? … © Neil Gaiman |

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