Silence Is Imaginary Because The World Never Stops Making Noise.
As the night comes on in the Wachau, a single frog
in the water plants below, astonishingly loud, begins.
He is hesitant, starting and stopping. It seems the whole village
must hear him. He is looking for a mate, but no one answers.
He starts, he pauses, he starts again.
The scientists say that frogs are dying out. No one knows why.
I am sitting on the tiny deck of my hotel room, drinking wine.
How strange and beautiful he is, calling unseen in the darkness,
as the light fades and the mountains reveal a deeper black than black,
and a soft breeze barely stirs on this warm night.
Jupiter, it must be Jupiter, is the first 'star'. Color is leaving.
The traffic is rare and distant on the river road.
Bells ring every fifteen minutes, two churches
almost in harmony. It is impossible to believe
everything is fading away; the beauty of the earth
cooling before a final consummation with our sun
long after we are gone. Eternity is now,
or rather it has been and will be. We interrupt,
a burglar in the house. We steal whatever is of value;
it affects nothing, a bagatelle. Yet we make eternity
visible. Without us, without the living, without the rocks
and stars, without the lovers in the next room,
nothing is possible. Without the black, or the tentative lights
in this village, without the knowledge we cannot have,
nothing is possible. The wine, as the night, is getting cooler.
The frog is now silent—he has given up—or perhaps
he has other plans, who knows? It is a swirling world,
nothing we do can touch it, and yet it is inside us.
Our bodies praise the bells, in love as we are.
Come, come, there is no distraction, no avoidance;
there is only that magnificent black line which separates
the now darkened sky from the greater dark
of the vineyard mountains and the unseen river beneath them,
that line which continues through the night,
a guidepost to something we will never know.
"Silence Is Imaginary Because The World Never Stops Making Noise" appears in A Truce with Fantasy (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2015). Its title comes from "A Voice from the Past," an article by Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker, May 19, 2014.
Bill Mayer's brand new poetry collection is A Truce with Fantasy. He is also the author of Longing, The Uncertainty Principle, The Deleted Family, and Articulate Matter, and a professional photographer who collaborated with Tony Keppelman on Hummingbirds, a photographic essay. In the late 1960s, he was invited to join a poetry workshop with Jack Gilbert, Linda Gregg, Larry Felson, George Stanley, Bill Anderson, Wilbur Wood, and others. The workshop persists to this day with some of its original participants. Bill Mayer lives in Berkeley, California.