Understanding Silence

Rondeau for You
to Conto de Barros (1924)
by Jorge de Lima

From you, Rose, I do not like
To accept only this slow hug
That you give me
Or only this moist kiss
That you give me …
I do not for a single reason:
From everything you tell me
I see that in your breast
Sobs the well-made heart of you.
And then I imagine
That together with the slender body
That dark little body
That you give me
Together with your loveliness
The maddening charm and laughter
That you give me
It would be something if I too owned
What hides behind your face, Rose:
The thought, the soul, the grief of you.

“It would be something if I too owned/What hides behind your face … The thought, the soul, the grief of you.”

Understanding Silence
When the silence comes
creeping into and interrupting our conversations,
we fear it.
Silence, we think,
creates distance.
But it is the silence that reels me in.
I long for you, for all of you;
the kisses, the hugs,
the smile that pulls at the corner of your lips and
the gloomier moods that sometimes captivate you.
The silence is the narrow opening into a jar—
it gives a glimpse of what is inside, but
you must go further.
I must go further
to understand what
your silence means,
what lies behind it, in your thoughts,
your hopes, your fears, your dreams.
To understand deeper
I must learn to speak another language—
silence is a language of its own.


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