I never thought John Cage was
trying to tell us anything about silence.
He told us music never stops,
only listening does,
and what if we never stop
listening? What if we become
so accustomed to focusing
on sounds that we forget to
tune out and block and cocoon?
What if we love sounds
“as they are,” as he says?
Will we ever get anything done?
Or will we be swept away,
dancing to the garbage trucks,
crushing today’s refuse to bits?
Will we sway softly to our own
heartbeats or hum in tune to tinnitus?
We won’t distinguish between the
sounds of skates on the sidewalk
and the instructions of the arresting officer.
As our loved ones tell us we’re the
only one, we’ll be listening to the
dripping of a loveless faucet
or the groaning of a protesting
gate hinge forced to give way.
We will live in a constant stream
of unconnected moments,
drowning in the music God
sent to save our souls.