LISTEN

Listen

What is that sound?
Like the trailing of a fan
through a silent anteroom?

It is the murmur of air
ruffling leaves.

It is the herald of the whirlwind
which will strip those leaves from their trees
and wrench the trees from the hillside
and blast the soil from the rocks beneath,
leaving the skeleton of the earth
to bleach and crumble.

And what is that sound?
Like a cascade of pearls
on a silver salver?

It is the rushing of the waterfall
in the Italian garden.
It presages the tempest and the raging ocean
which smashes earth’s boundaries
and drives the rivers back up to their sources,
drowning and destroying everything that lives on air.

And what is that sound?
Like the crackle of dry twigs
under the heavy boots of soldiers?
It is the fire in the hearth,
logs spitting, blue and yellow flame dancing
under the granite lintel.

It is the messenger of the Sun
which will rage and burn the planet
to a cloud of incandescent interstellar dust
for the winds of space to disperse forever.

And what is that sound?
High and plaintive
behind the polished nursery door?

It is the crying of a two-day-old baby.
It tells of the heavy tramp of armies
across the continents of the world
marching to the rhythms
of dark gods
bringing the destruction of cities
and the extinguishing of civilisations.

It is the sound of an empty skull
there in the desert,
abandoned by dog and raven,
dry and bleached and splitting along its seams,
home to gusts of wind
and the occasional locust.

These are the sounds of the end of human endeavour,
the end pages of books,
the silence which silences the symphony.

When the gums shrivel and decay,
the teeth are cracked and broken
and there is to be found no place where the smile
or its shadow has ever been;
no echo of long ago laughter.

This is the sound of eternity.

Brian Taylor

 

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