Code of Silence

The fog is rolling in, the silence of the night.

That quiet that is so heavy you could eat it with a spoon,

inhale it, a loaf of air, thick as everything you know.

When your friends say that your knowledge is encyclopedic,

they don’t really mean Britannica A – Z dense.

They’re saying you know a lot, a flattering reference,

that your brain is stuffed with enough information to fill

two, maybe three volumes at the outside.

You’re only human after all.

Even if you had a photographic memory,

your brain could only hold so much stuff.

There are foghorns going off out there somewhere.

Ships telling each other that they do in fact exist.

Do not bump into me.

If you really can’t afford radar, I’m right here.

Each horn, lonely, longing, haunting, informing,

has its own pitch, its unique voice,

like penguin babies calling

for their closely listening mothers to run feed them.

And then there is that silence between the sounds of horns.

It is the code of silence, the honor of withholding information,

that might be vital, incriminating, bean spilling,

could have dire consequences if it were divulged,

like shunning, or death, or dismemberment,

for which your bank may have extended you complementary insurance coverage.

When you live on this side, you know the water is alive,

but the air above it’s a vast field of emptiness,

filled every night with a regressively thicker fog,

the kind referred to as soupy, usually pea,

which makes for a nice sandwich here.

I know this too in my tiny library.

I can see, if it’s only the hand at the end of the arm.

I listen for the sound of horns somewhere out there.

But it is late, and the ships have all passed now.

I think I am alone now.

I think maybe all there is

is the tick of the cat tiptoeing in.

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