Photography, Poetry and Art Projects by Ciaran Burke

Acclimatised To Silence

Crying, my first sounds,
and I cried for two years more.
I cried for hunger, I cried of anger,
I cried for love, I cried when I was bored.

Fart noises and nonsense,
gibberish and leaf-formed words.
I was encouraged and cajoled,
each performance induced loud laughter.

First words, long awaited,
followed by unharnessed monologues,
soliloquies on the daily adventures,
the drama of LEGO construction.

Then, the requests to be quiet
interrupting the battles, plastic soldiers
assaulting a kitchen chair,
migraine headaches from machine gun sounds.

Soon I had to be quiet all day 
in the classroom, seeking permission,
walking corridors
with finger covered lips.

When my age required two numbers
my world grew quieter still
less games of imagination
sitting by the TV, not too loud.

In teenage torment, required to
embrace silence and encourage it more.
Homework conducted in isolation
no music, no chatter, no talk.

Acclimatised, withdrawn to solitude,
headphone refuge, my personal noise
while I lay on unmade bed,
escape from their silence, complete.

I could walk with my own cacophony
the world around was filled with mutes,
they responded by shouting,
breaking their silent society.

Dinners without headphones
encouragement to converse
my silent heaven tortured
by questions, enquirers, requests.

We are birthed by screaming mothers
and slapped to make us cry,
our first utterance 
is seen as joy.

Then we scold each other for talking
for laughing too loud
ending life in silence, hope of
silent death in our beds.

- Ciaran Burke

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