A Sutra of Mary Pickford


"It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out
of the talkie instead of the other way around." —Mary Pickford


Because silent films were never really silent,
a moment of actual silence might be represented
by actual silence—
the accompanist's fingers hang
impatiently above the keys,
one foot noiselessly tapping time—
till the barely pantomimed caterwaul resumes.

But in talking pictures, silence is never silent.
It is pulled into the rhythm of our speech—
lifting, dropped—
and so actual silence must be intimated
through clatter,
the insistent chirr of crickets
filling the space where true sound isn't.

In this meadow,
crickets are never really silence.