#22 After the Silence

After the Silence

  • by Neil Gaiman (this is just the last stances of his poem. Please take a minute to go and read or hear the whole poem read by Amanda Palmer.

There’s a voice that rumbles beneath us
and after the end the voice still reaches usDSC05024.jpeg
Like a bird that cries in hunger
or a song that pleads for a different future.
Because all of us dream of a different future.
And somebody needs to listen.
To pause. To hold.
To inhale, and find the moment
before the exhale, when everything is in balance
and nothing moves. In balance: here’s life, here’s death,
and this is eternity holding its breath.

Nothing is ever over
life breathes life in its turn
Sometimes the people listen
Sometimes the people learn

After the world has ended
After the silent spring
Into the waiting silence
another song begins.


The neighborhood has slowed. I did not expect to hear or feel the difference but it is there. The quiet. The calm. You feel it in the air. You hear it in the voices of the birds that are now clear and strong no longer needing to cut through the roar. The sounds of the city have stilled.

I feel and hear the tulip leaves pushing through the frozen ground. They push through the cold hard soil deeply frozen and then touching the cool muddy muck just before lifting their reddish tips to the warmth of sun. Once they are out into the light the red begins to fade and the green of chlorophyll feeds its growth. They can stand tall in this new spring.

The brown curled tiny stem and leaves of moss are also greening to the sun. They unfurl as the green liquid pushes into the cells. They grow so slowly we do not see them move but here in this new spring they have covered more of the hill. They have found new footings to help survive. They are resilient.

The trees stand stately. Empty branches swing and sway in the March winds. As I look up into the sky and watch and wonder did they survive? Did they make it IMG_1787.jpegthrough another round of a harsh cold season? A season of dark and isolation. They turned inward. Sap slipping down the long trunk to feed the roots and slow production during a time of stress. The trees know how to conserve their energy. They know how to wait out the change, how to endure the worst of the darkness. They learned long ago to rest, to be quiet. They learned to turn into themselves, into home. Now as the winter has passed. They are testing the air. If you look way up into the trees very tops there you will find little tips of red buds. Those bud are tasting the air, seeking the sun and getting ready to emerge into green leaves when the time is right and not before.

We also have grown quiet. We are found walking not driving. We nod quietly as we pass our neighbors and strangers. We have returned home to settle and wait out the change. In this time we are finding a new normal. We are finding our friends and family through notes, video calls, text messages. We are testing the waters of a new life. It will take time to change. It will be a struggle and then things will fall into place.

After the silent spring

Into the waiting silence

another song will begin.


[ Thank you to Maria Povova and Brain Pickings. I begin my reading today with her Sunday Newsletter and poems by Jane Hirshfield and tumbled into Neil Gaiman’s poems as well. At the end of this post are links to other poets like Lisel Mueller, Mary Oliver, Rebecca Elson and more. A wonderful collection of thoughts. All Maria’s newsletters are an opening to a large rabbit hole leading you to more and more poems, images and writings. If you have not explored this world you should. She set the stage for my writing today.]

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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6 Responses to #22 After the Silence

  1. Amanda Regan says:

    This was lovely. Your descriptions were vivid and I love how you used the Neil Gaiman poem to begin and end your slice. Those last three lines are so beautiful and full of hope.

  2. Wow – you left me with no words – silence. So much of what you wrote resonates with me. I love the connection to nature – it gives me hope. This is a new normal. I am very aware of my privilege right now. That my life allows me the security to see the positives. I heart aches for those who do not have this security. How afraid they must be. Thank you for giving me a space to pause and reflect today. Simply beautiful

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Yes I to think of those that do not have the security we have or the connections to reach out to others through computers, text and video conferencing. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. This brought me peace. Thinking about the “after” is what gets me through the frustration of “now”. Thinking about how after this is all over- we’ll have full classrooms and theaters and restaurants and malls. Full concerts. People will relish human connection more. It’s an interesting, terrifying kind of “reset” button. Maybe, in a way, we needed it on some level. Interesting to think about.

  4. This new normal is strange. I haven’t quite settled into it yet.

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