Purple silence is my favorite – deepest,
most resonant – brown the murkiest –
white-yellow, full like a winter sky
before snow. When I read a book I love,
the silence shifts – geometric for
learning something new, organic when
I lose myself among the pages.
Late at night, in a still and resting
house, the silence is velvet –
blue-black like the sky just before dark.
In the early morning, coming back into
myself, a silky silence gives way to corduroy.
Music contains silences that linger
for a time like birds on a branch.
From my parent’s country house, a winding
path led to the beaver dam, full of thick silence.
Haven’t you known thin silence?
You’ve asked a question and he can’t
answer, and the silence is an empty
swimming pool you’re forced to dive into.
Ellen Goldsmith is the author of two chapbooks—Such Distances and No Pine Tree in This Forest Is Perfect, which won the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center 1997 chapbook contest and was described by Dennis Nurkse, the contest judge, as an “incandescent collection.” “The Secret of Life” from Such Distances was read by Garrison Keillor on Writer’s Almanac. A resident of Cushing, Maine, she is a professor emeritus of The City University of New York.