The Party

April 21, 2013

Surrounded by friends, he remains silent.
There are people here he hasn’t spoken to for years;
people he had forgotten about;
people who had surely forgotten about him.
And yet they have come.
They are here for him
but he remains silent.
He never was very good company.
If anything, he would have preferred no party at all.
But then, that’s not the done thing.
So there is a party
but he remains silent.
It really is a rather good party;
but he has no idea;
he never was a lover of parties.
He’d always preferred quiet time,
private time,
and if not for these guests,
whom he had not invited,
that’s what he would be doing now.
They talk about him
but he remains silent.
Some talk to him,
but he remains silent.
Several weep at his very feet,
but he remains silent.
Now and ever.



November 3, 2011

Always traffic and this damned heat.

She sat beside him, in the passenger seat, silent. She was always silent in the car.

It had been five minutes since they had last moved and he had sat there for five minutes in a strange and awkward limbo.

Though he tried not to, he couldn’t help but assess her silence.

Was she silent because she didn’t want to speak to him?

Was she silent because she was waiting for him to speak first?

Was she silent because she was thinking the same?

He sat there, frozen by his own over-analysis, wanting to speak and not wanting to both at the same time and speculating about the possible outcomes of each. Schrodinger’s car journey.

Finally, after another two or three or maybe a hundred minutes, he opened his mouth to speak. Then, feeling an overwhelming dryness like drowning but in open air, he closed his mouth again and struggled to swallow.

Now he was terrified that she might have noticed. Perhaps she was sat there now, disgusted either at his cowardice or else at his daring to break the silence between them.

He had no idea and he had to know. But he couldn’t look. His eyes were fixed on the unmoving car in front and vaguely on the long line stretching out ahead. His neck began to ache from fighting the urge to turn and his eyes almost took it upon themselves to glance across or check the mirror to see what they could see.

The longer this went on, the more unnatural it felt. The silence was normal – she was always silent in the car – but surely she’d notice his artificial stiffness eventually.

His face began to prickle, sting, burn and he was sure it must be turning red. He felt like he had to do something and at the same time, like he had to fight even harder to remain distant. It was killing him.

The car was so hot from the summer sun and his broken air-conditioner that the heat began to feel like a solid presence in the car with them, between them. It was stifling him and he felt sure it must be the same for her.

Finally, some way out ahead, he saw the line break and movement began to ripple towards him the way waves travel along a length of rope when you whip it at one end.

The car in front started to roll forward and at long last, he released the hand-brake, slowly reduced pressure on the clutch pedal and placed his other foot back on the accelerator.

The car began to vibrate and, as they moved for the first time in too long,without a word he felt her hand gently rest on his knee.

xii. Silence

July 22, 2011

The noise takes over silence, suddenly.
The awkwardness between us grows too loud;
The ticking clock upon the wall counts down
the time that passes by without a word;
The television, background hum before,
now commentator on the battlefield
that sprawls between us, hostile land bestrewn
with failed apologies and unmasked lies;
The softly growling dog that lies asleep,
a symbol of a simpler life – of peace –
reminder of naivete of youth,
a time when arguments seemed all grown up
and we swore we would grow up differently;
the music rumbling through the party wall –
a constant that we’ve grown used to – becomes
an inapt soundtrack to our dying love;
and even traffic from the street below
begins to taunt and tease by offering
escape – the sound of people travelling
from place to place – if only you would dare
but we both know that if you leave, it’s done.
The silence feeds itself as time ticks on
and I can’t bare the thunderous sound it makes
but neither of us want for it to end.