The Sounds of Silence

My family has been tiptoeing around
a bomb. It's 11 years old
with a short fuse.

It's a noisy thing. It's screaming
and slamming and rage rage rage,
his chair scraping across the floor
as he's sent away to solitude,
the jangle-whoosh-whisper of a belt
being whipped out of pant loops
(a threat that looms without striking),
his sister's wails when he snaps.

The noise scrambles up my brain,
sends my nerves to the surface
of my skin, leaves me lurching
in the dark for compassion, restraint.
It gets trapped inside me until
I'm vibrating with white-hot frustration,
my throat craving the cleansing scream.

This is not how I'll live,
not the childhood I'll give them.
So I listen to my heart,
give him the space and silence
to defuse, to regroup, to relax.

I give him hours of silence
that are loud with quiet sounds:
His pencil against paper, the sharp
intake of breath when he spies
a grosbeak or a blue jay
at the bird feeder, the excitement
of an afternoon that's only his.

But the silence is loaded with
worry, too. I listen to it,
note its shape, memorize its cadence.
I pray the balance can last.

But this is just our start:
listening to and honoring what's broken,
and giving each other (and ourselves)
the space and time to heal.

Today's post is part of Six Word Fridays and Five-for-Five. The topic is "Listening."


  • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

    "hours of silence
    that are loud with quiet sounds"

    This is just insanely beautiful.

    Thank you for trusting is with these felt and powerful words.


  • Lindsey

    Gosh, yes. The time and the space and the quiet ... so essential and yet so hard (for me at least) to offer, sometimes. xoxo

  • Justine

    Achingly beautiful. I can't imagine what that must be like for you. For him. But it sounds like you've found a way to at least navigate around the raging waters. Sometimes that's all one can do.

  • TKW

    But the silence is loaded with
    worry, too. I listen to it,
    note its shape, memorize its cadence.
    I pray the balance can last.

    This is something that I can relate to so much. The whole thing. Beautifully written.

  • Hyacynth

    Kelly, your writing here is so deep and so electric. I can feel the anxiety, hear that silence. In that silence of listening, I'm sure you will hear Whispers guiding you. So much strength to you, loving mama. I know you're doing a good job simply because you care and act on it.

  • BigLittleWolf

    This is gorgeous, Kelly. Really gorgeous.

    That need for silence, and the worry it provokes. Listening to and honoring what's broken.


  • Arnebya

    This imbalance/balance trade off, how hard it has to be to navigate. The worry that won't leave, the need for silence, stillness, regrouping. I don't live it, but I understand it more based on these words alone.

  • Belinda

    This is gorgeous, Kelly. So many lines you write are relatable, though I know nothing about ADHD.

    this: "...leaves me lurching
    in the dark for compassion, restraint" -- puts me in touch with all those feelings I feel when I allow myself to see what's wrong with the world today. Thank you for providing me with a release. xx

  • Robin

    Kelly - This was so beautiful, so deep, and as someone else said - electric!!

    I am going to check out your tutorial - I am not savvy enough to figure these things out. So thanks :)

  • Amy @ Never-True Tales

    Lovely, and so charged with emotion. The rage surprised me, but the so did the quiet, and the listening, and the lurching. Great job.

  • Heather Caliri

    Changing the patterns from our childhood is so hard. I'm thankful you're able to give him the space he needs.

  • Melissa Camara Wilkins

    Learning independence, learning to manage yourself: I think it's so, so hard. But it gets better! (Right?) They almost always turn out to be functional adults. (Right?) Everything will be fine, in time. (Right?!) (These things I believe... or hope...) ;)

  • Melany Gallant

    Not having all the answers but listening to what is broken...that is the way forward. Makes perfect sense. Wishing you all space and time to heal.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful, lovely! "I give him hours of silence
    that are loud with quiet sounds" - pure poetry!

  • Sara

    The dichotomy of the rage and silence is striking. I hope you both find the answers (and peace) you need.

  • Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri

    Your juxtaposition between the quiet and the loud is stunning. So many phrases resonate in these verses resonate deeply. Thanks Kelly.

  • Sarah

    Giving ourselves the time and space to heal. Yes! And once you figure out how to do it, it almost addictive. Though it'd be nice not to feel so broken all the time, too :)

  • Cheryl

    Such beautiful writing, Kelly.

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