I broke my silence today so I could talk to my gynecologist during my appointment this morning. I suppose I could have written out what I needed to tell her, but that process seemed cumbersome and unnecessary — and again, it would have felt like an imposition of my silence, which is not what I want my practice of silence to be.
I’m going back into silence at sundown. Tomorrow, I drive to Tieton, Wash., for the weekend to attend LiTFUSE, a weekend poetry workshop that brings together poets from western and eastern Washington. I will break my silence at LiTFUSE as necessary to speak about poetry with the other poets, but mostly I will maintain my silence because listening to other poets is the best way to learn from them.
Today, my small town is raining ash from nearby fires. My car was covered in ash this morning, and the sills of our open windows are dusted in gray and black. When I went to clean one of the sills, the smell of fire entered my lungs and clung to my hands.
That I’ve been writing about fire lately in my poems is no wonder. The world keeps offering up fire and flame, heat and loss. In another part of the state, a sixty-ton load of hay caught fire on the highway this morning. A passerby had to chase down and stop the truck because it was leaving a trail of burning hay all along the road.
Sometimes my life feels like a load of burning hay, each of my days falling from me, aflame. Nothing to do but get out the pitchfork and begin spreading the hay thin so the fire can’t hide deep inside each bale.
These are the dry days, the dangerous days. I imagine my friend who fights fires moving into the flames, in and in, while every other living creature tries to move away.