The Science of Silence: An Exploration of the Absence of Sound
By Anne Rhee & Sunny Lee
In a Halloween-esque manner, this poem explores silence, ritualistic elements of insomnia, and isolation. What it means, however, is up to you to interpret.
Quilted pillows, rainbow palettes of blankets, strewn haphazardly across the room amidst domestic wreckage, The wistful eyes of a doll, the occasional creak of a floorboard, Sure signs of a ghost, she was told, The echoes of a child’s whisper sunk in her mind, she Tried to sleep, but couldn’t. Tugged at the rainbow seams for security she waits. The silence, weighing on her shoulders, she longs for Carpet Someone in the attic? Her eyelids, A purpley-blue gossamer willing to blink open She lies among the silence, unspoken words, like bricks Hard and heavy, pushing against her sleeping body It’s a wake, they repeat, The night watch has just begun. A howl in the distance. She kneels on the floor, the hardwood planks pressed against her shins, aching, it’s become a ritual, she tells the unspoken thing (in her mind) Utterances with the potential to Shape or break her world. Like skipping stones across a stream Like laying your head on the plush fibers of a carpet in the afternoon sun. Confession time. She bends forward in a motion of devotion, tilts her chin down, the waterlines of her lids kiss the floor. she is once again, too close the unspoken words ready to tumble out She braces herself for release, waiting for the words to sweep her off her feet, the floorboards creaking under her every step. She wonders if they will be enough for what she has been wanting to say, what she’s been feeling, an unspoken melody that captivates her mind, she wonders will her head have a soft place to rest? a howl in the distance, she walks back to her mattress, the voices, the sounds—they are Waiting. She lets out a primordial howl. She smiles.
One of our goals this year was to explore more hybrid forms, and Claudia Rankine’s poetry came to mind for its image-text juxtaposition. Anne and I wrote each line in real-time, playing off of each other’s words in order to complete the poem. Then, Anne used her poet sensibility to refine it a bit more. Then Sunny interspersed images to expand/echo the nuances of certain lines for extra emphasis.
Anne Rhee is a writer based in NYC. She began writing poetry for fun three years ago and has recently started writing short stories and different multimedia pieces. She likes to focus on themes such as immigration, generational divides, and language. Her pieces have been published in the Girls Write Now Anthology and the Stuyvesant Spectator. She was also a recipient of two Bronze Honorable Mentions from the Scholastic Writing competition. In her free time, she likes to make Pinterest boards, lists, and listen to Ariana Grande.
Sunny Lee (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based writer who has attended VONA, Tin House, and One Story Summer Conference. She is one of the outreach coordinators at MFA App Review and a fiction reader for Peatsmoke and Kweli. She is currently working on a short story collection about badly behaved Korean American women through Lighthouse's Book Project fellowship.