Wittgenstein and Silence

Author(s): 
Department: 

(for Newton Garver)

I remember

cross-country skiing with you

back in the woods around

the East Concord New York, home,

the snow puffy with light powder

as we cut through the evergreens.


After all,

in my early 30’s

I could care less,

challenging, fiercer every second

and sweating mightily

even in the below zero temperature.


There we were:

two Quakers, intensely spiritual,

totally committed to silence and its meanings,

determined now to beat the other,

to pummel the other one

into the swirling snow drifts,

curling around trees,

overcome with hot desire.


In Wittgenstein,

what we cannot speak about,

the end of language and the beginning of understanding,

is this ferocious competitive edge,

a way of being that leads

to a bottom pool of silence,

arguments and propositions be damned,

a truth that remains in the body

just part of the breathing,

pushing blood in and out,

the grammar and silence of Wittgenstein

flowing and going together?

Stanford J Searl, Jr., is a member of Santa Monica Meeting (PYM). This poem is from his book, Quaker Poems: The Heart Opened.