I am living in silence now.
I have gone days
without hearing the sound of my own voice.
I am in a vocal exile.
I counted recently,
how many times I speak
during the course of an average day.
There were so few utterances
that I imagine,
if words were tangible,
my words spoken wouldn't fill the hand of a small child.
When I was nine,
I lost the power of speech for two whole weeks.
I was hiking thru the woods with friends.
We trekked with purpose,
in a linear and orderly fashion,
thru the oak and pine behind my parents house.
The line stopped.
The boy at the front yelled, "Bees!"
The boy at the back yelled, "What?"
And I looked down to discover that I was standing on the bees.
And before I had a chance to move
they were upon me.
I quietly watched as they made their way up my body
with speed and purpose.
In an instant I was wearing a burning, teeming, suit of angry insects.
The searing white hot light in my head told me to run.
So I did.
But the pain slowed me down,
and I covered the last few yards home
staggering like a drunk old man leaving the VFW.
My father was working in the garden,
when I finally ambled up.
It took almost an hour to get all the bees off of me.
When the garden hose failed to liberate me from my suit of bees,
my father, joined now by my mother,
used their bare hands to scrape bees from my body.
When this too failed,
my father and my mother
resorted to slapping and killing the bees as they clung,
to my nine year old frame.
And I stood on the concrete patio,
never uttering a word,
as bees stung me
and my parents hit me to make the bees stop.
When the fury had almost subsided,
my mother said this to my father,
"Dear God Mike, they're packed in his ears!"
She started to dig into my ears to get the bees out.
And it was at this moment that my father looked into my eyes
with a love I had never seen from him before this day;
he grabbed my jaw roughly in his hand,
and pried my mouth open.
both alive and chewed dead,
And I didn't speak for two complete weeks.
I knew I could, after the first few days,
but words spoken aloud
had become bees in my mouth.
And I am now living in this silence again.
I go days without hearing the sound of my own voice.
I am in vocal exile.
Words spoken aloud,
have again become bees in my mouth.
And what good are spoken words,
if I am the only one listening?