On Dances, Dares, and Dominant Diagnoses: The Sounds of Silence
Assignment Task: Supervisor Referral, Evaluation Needed. ASAP
[Student / Inmate / Colleague / Patient / Any of Us / Each of Us] Profile
- Late Teens. Twenties. Ageless.
- Reserved, Quiet
- Observations / Whole Class/Group Performance: Underperforming, Rarely Participates
- Clubs: No participation. No observed hobbies
- Coursework: Up to date. Satisfactory. Minimal effort observed
Reflection Notes: The Sounds of Silence
Tell me it’s wrong for her to turn down the dial,
switch to volume one and stream
“Let it Be” alongside “What a Wonderful World”
while others wrangle for
clockwise rotations, level eight decibels,
pop tunes and rushed lyrics,
from Rush to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
Tell me it’s wrong for fun to flow
and flourish in flavors as varied as the threads
that weave through the patchwork, pieced, and applique
quilts she sews late into the night. Vibrant patterns,
doves, daffodils, diamonds -
crafted for communities dear to her
yet foreign to you.
And tell me it’s wrong for joy the flavor
of pink lemonade and blueberry crumble
to express itself in unique ways
through genres and genes
that form fingerprints that press
upon her clay handiwork.
And that the strokes of paint
that hug the ceramic bowls potted of soil
and seeds – Forget-Me-Nots, Pinks, and Marigolds.
Zinnia, Cosmos, and Bachelor Buttons, too –
are not the colors of jubilation,
contentment, and Her.
With hundreds of thousands of flowering
species on the planet – 250,000 / 350,000
tell me freedom
can’t be stocked and stacked
on bookstore shelves and in quiet library
halls / with works of words
that reach even higher tallies.
We hear you joke - in standing debriefs
held between 9 and 5 – weekly -
and water-cooler chugs,
of a funny form of Hell
on Earth where words are used
as tools /
not to read
or write – in small notebooks,
hard copies, and coffee shop laptops,
but for work
and working – of/with/out deals, barters,
and carnival megaphones and
wind-up teeth that chatter on command.
Just for a moment, stop winding the tiny
plastic dial. Let the dial
rest. Cease the constant chatter.
Then tell me it’s fine, really,
for her to prefer pre-packaged bags of low sodium
chips, mugs of lemon tea, and Netflix
to basement parties, bottles of beer,
gymnasium proms, and perfectly
petty conversations. For a girl
to give her all – to herself –
and so little to you.
To prefer classic to social media, bird watching
and binoculars to Twitter,
and keyboard clicking – create
and curate - to Tik Tok viewing.
Tell me it’s also fine for her to focus
on the murmur of voices inside the tousled
curls that frame her head and warm
to the echoes of your voices
in the room outside.
Did you know that some days
she takes the long way
to anywhere and everywhere
simply to savor the pulsed and precious
quiet of an empty
corridor, a silent street, an unused
and unpaved path. Where there are no footprints,
no voices, and no signs of You.
And that she often chooses to sit alone
at a diner counter
to savor the sizzle of the egg on the frying
pan, the crackle of the butter, the hiss
of the chopped steak
and onion grease on the griddle,
and pairs of unfamiliar shoulders as sandwich
and first and third courses.
Tell me she shouldn’t need to crave
painted lips and nostrils in tissues, air damp
with syllables strung in urgency.
Tell me she also need not race
to create conversation, to consume
your talk, and nod to the beat
of an unnamed notion,
yet miss the frogs croaking,
the crickets chirping,
the ants arranging,
the water lapping,
and the ideas that toss and tangle
in terrific tousles
both on and of the caverns
of her mind
The brain a muscle that pumps
like the chambers of our heart /
its music as joyous as that of the night club
at the corner
of Broad and Main / its music a mirror to the clink
of the bowling ball
that brushes, then topples pins
in alleys that come alive under star-lit skies.
Where the line between exasperation
and exaggeration is as thin as a razor’s edge
and the space between flat soled shoes and thin ice,
tell me you can’t See. Hear. Smell. Touch. Feel.
the Beauty. Power. Strength.
of her reservation.
Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of Recollections, Invisible Ink, and On Habits & Habitats. .