The Voice of a Handwritten Letter

This is not a poetry blog. This post is a different variety of declaration urging people to use their voices.

Recently, I gave the gift of the poem that follows to a 60-year friend for Mother’s Day. It began as a remembrance of the letters we wrote as kids leveraged with the delicious detail of handwriting terms, of my friend’s mother’s passing, and as poems do, evolved into a lament of the fact that our kids don’t experience the joy of a handwritten letter. 

IN OUR HANDWRITING

We

held hands

in pale vellum.

Confidences were

penned, licked, sealed, received.

Cursive lines of love disguised

as the details of summers in

Maine, in Florida, from the south rim

of the Grand Canyon when our objections

to separation went unheard. Teenage

upstrokes borne of ‘60s hope for a

world of love. Warm summers, easy

flourishes. Secrets of bad

boys we loved, descenders

too delicious to

cast aside. Young

skill sets, no

r e m o r s e.

x-

height,

practice

for restraint

neither of us

wanted. Unprepared

for the mother of love,

gentility, kindness, the

community’s baseline for

care, to show us how to live without

her. Allographs of wholeness descended

into stressors, curves of pain, disbelief.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, love

sleeps in the next room, cancer

notwithstanding. The hand

of penmanship, in

hers now,

delicately,

one last

time.

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After a very challenging week, a co-worker penned a note of thanks to me for my patience, professionalism, support and counsel. Such a gesture of appreciation in a business environment is not often given. I can say that the note’s influence continues to resonate. I read it every day.

The importance of using our voices intimately, oratorically, conversationally, poetically and in prose cannot be overstated. Neither can the case for penning deeply personal thoughts and wishes to others. It’s the highest form of personal expression and tribute.

 

Having a Voice can Include Silence

Silence takes many forms. Recognition of inner stillness, the stillness we all share. A chosen absence of speech, which is often quite powerful in conversation or debate. A reaction to circumstance or event.

Silence, I was reminded by Gaston Bachelard, a French 20th Century non-conformist whose interests and education spanned from mathematics to philosophy to chemistry to physics to poetry to architecture, is also “the source of our first suffering… and lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak.”

The world is full of talk today, yes? Little of it, though, is other than superfluous banter at others and not genuine conversation with them. It’s often disparaging, disrespectful and even demeaning.

Frequently, our most important conversations lay dormant, remaining latent as a result of the fear of any number of things, including perceived lack of qualification or authority, or the risk of humiliation.

Herein lies Bachelard’s point. A voice suppressed or withdrawn or belittled is, indeed, a form of suffering. It’s a missed opportunity to connect with others in ways that promote growth, understanding and acceptance. It’s the most important vehicle of self-expression we have, and far more important that any superficial expression.

I have many interests, and I can even muster an opinion. But bigger topics, even risking areas of disagreement, are what intrigue me because there is no one right answer to any question.

I respect courage, self-reflection, equanimity and, yes, silence in its most powerful context. They’re all wonderful tools to build relationships and societies of fairness and diversity. One conversation at a time.

Welcome to SilentThingsWithinUs.