Silence and I

JUST WANTED TO share this odd but beautiful piece about love, math (go figure) and the economy of words. An acquaintance passed it on to me and it had since been quietly passed on from friend to friend to friend.

The Quiet World
by Jeffrey McDaniel

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
the government has decided to allot
each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it
to my ear without saying hello.
In the restaurant I point
at chicken noodle soup. I am
adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long
distance lover and proudly say
I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond, I know
she’s used up all her words
so I slowly whisper I love you,
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

(hush hush)

5 thoughts on “Silence and I

    • that’s right :)

      Trivia: the author even meticulously counted the words in the stanzas to fit the 167 word limit.

      “Even though he’s describing an overarching social condition, the author
      still sneaks in very precise images – the chicken noodle soup, and the 32
      1/3 times he says ‘I love you’ to his silent lover (167 words – 59 = 108
      and -11 for the last two lines of the 3rd stanza = 97. Now 97 / 3 for ‘I
      love you’ gives the 32 1/3).”


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