Saturday, January 19, 2013

learning how to hear

so long as breath controls my body

Right off of Fleet Street--one of the busiest avenues in London, there is a little courtyard called Gough Square. If you're not looking, you'll zoom right on by the little sign that announces unobtrusively that Samuel Jonson's house is right this ways, and points down a little alley. 
You follow the alley as it snakes around several newer-shinier office buildings.

You almost think you're being led on a wild-goose chase. 
And then you turn the corner and see it:
a tiny little courtyard, where quiet reigns.
A man is sitting on a bench in the little circle of benches.
A woman walks by, eating a sandwich.

No one moves very fast. Everything is hushed.

You walk over to a red brick house.
A man is on a ladder in the small, gated yard next to the house. He's painting a windowsill.

And you snap a picture of the plaque that reads: "Dr. Samuel Jonson ~author~ lived here."

All quiet activities. No one disrupts the sacred silence of a place that's simply silent for being silent's sake.

Then, if you remain very still indeed, you can hear the sounds of the city creep over the rooftops and down into the yard.
The sounds of cars, buses, people leak into the courtyard.
I have never listened so acutely to the noises around me.
When the hubbub has been removed a bit,  and isn't surrounding you, and smothering you, then you have a chance to breathe a bit. 
Step back. Listen.
Freed from the dull roar of the city outside, hiddin in the quiet inside the little square, 
I heard a bird sing.

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