There is no silence
in the spring.
Birds sing.
Children slam open doors
and tumble outside
in the blinding sunshine.
Men and women scrape lawn chairs
across concrete patios.
Neighbors speak
from stoop to stoop.
Baseballs smack the palms
of stiff leather gloves.
Dogs bark.
Babies squeal.
Bees buzz.
Walk anywhere you like,
follow abandoned alleys
to quieter corners,
you will not find silence.
Silence (or did you forget?)
is the sound of snow.


This poem is my response to the current, and lovely, cacophony in my back yard and also to The Art Assignment #5. The Art Assignment is a video series co-produced by John and Sarah Urist Green and PBS. Each episode Sarah interviews a working artist who then provides an assignment. This time Jace Clayton asked anyone who’s interested to find their quietest place. I so appreciated his suggestion that we walk and follow our ears. It felt so good to give more attention to a sense other than sight. What I discovered as I walked around my neighborhood was that I couldn’t really find quiet. I could get farther away from busy streets but then I became aware of other sounds–birds, electronic equipment, people. The quietest place I could find was my garage. With all this in mind, I wrote this poem. 

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2014, all rights reserved

3 replies
  1. Patricia Podlipec
    Patricia Podlipec says:

    Yes, I’ve noticed that, too. The sound of spring is different. Where I walk is rather wooded, and the sounds from birds alone could announce each season, with spring being the most musical.
    I look forward to reading your poem every day. Thanks.

  2. Pauline Wood
    Pauline Wood says:

    Lovely to share your sounds. Mine here are the waves crashing on the rocks below, the sound of birdsong from the birds on the roof or the warbling mew of the black kites hunting over the sea, together with the background chugging of the engines of the fishing sampans. Very different, and the silence of snow is just a distant memory from childhood mornings.

  3. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    You’ve captured the cacophony perfectly! I especially like the lines:
    “Men and women scrape lawn chairs
    across concrete patios.”
    Such a distinct sound (and feeling) with this rite of spring! = )


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