Friday, June 4, 2010

Only Silence Remains

by Maria Kelly I am here...right here... just a step or two away from with only the distance of the aisle to separate us. You are looking at cans of tuna fish, I am contemplating vegetable soup. You turn and look in my direction and I smile but your eyes are blank and unfocused; seeing right through me, not seeing me at all, as if I have become Invisible. Again and again I observe this tragic ritual in American marketplaces and city streets, where a smile and a “Hello” are rare commodities and sometimes more precious than gold. We are a nation of Invisible People: frightened of any confrontation beyond our computer and cell phone screens. How will we re-learn the Art of spoken Communication once it is forever lost? Will our public voices continue to dwindle into nothingness ...until only silence remains? (dedicated to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who envisioned this long before I did, and wrote about it in “The Sound of Silence.” Poetry can be prophesy.)


Jim said...


Your poetry on gets better and better each time you send something in!


Maria A. Kelly said...

Thank you, Jim. I'm glad you liked it. I'm glad that my writing is getting better and better with continued effort and practice. That's the way it works for all of us would-be scribes and poets. :D

R said...

This poem made me smile, because I got out of my way to make eye contact with random strangers. I've seen faces light up when I say a simple, "Hi!"

Being friendly to a stranger really does brighten their day.


Maria A. Kelly said...

Thanks, Becca;

One of the things I like to do in stores is look at the cashier's name tag and then address them by name. "How are you today, Rose?" It's amazing the smiles you get and the real conversation. Cashiering is one of the crappiest jobs there is, and just having a customer treat you like a human being makes a big difference to them. Friendliness costs nothing but a smile and a few words.

This poem was based on a real incident at the grocery store. I had just put my bags in the car and turned to ask the guy exiting the truck next to me if he wanted my cart. He shook his head, not bothering to look at me or speak to me and continued on his not-so-merry way. As I was driving home it occurred to me that I did not hurt so much for my sake on account of his actions, but for his sake. I felt sorry for him and for all of people who, like him, are terrified of human interaction. That's how this poem was born.

Thanks for your comment.