A Generous Welcome

Silence is not an emptiness. Any absence brings a presence. Those who practice the difficult experience of silence welcome what it welcomes.

A Generous Welcome

The snow is falling through eternity’s quiet
where everything here lives within. And now
mid-morning the sunlight falls across the

hemlocks, it too lying within the ubiquity
of quiet, a quiet arriving from the silence
that was here before Alpha and will be here

after Omega. This morning when the turkeys,
twelve of them, tumbled in their tumultuous
flutter down from roosting in the dark

where they sleep one hundred feet up in
the empty-leaved maples, the snow shook
down on the quiet of the cat, and she rushed

through the brush to the back door where she waited
for me. The silence, of course, was everywhere.
The turkeys nodded their stable way up the hill,

following the inevitable trail that has become
their day, seeming to trust the path will bring
them to seeds and corn, lost fruit. The light

glistened along the sheen of their backs bringing
gold and green out from what against the drifts
seemed only a study in black. Sound does come,

even in the hush of the turkeys’ enormous feet
imprinting the snowfall, even in the small fall
of flake upon flake. Quiet comes to the silence.

–Jack Ridl

First Published in Crab Orchard Review

Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

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21 thoughts on “A Generous Welcome

    • Thanks so much for telling me this, Jim. Every time now that
      I turn to it, I will feel your presence, your wonderful
      gift of a soulful presence.

  1. Jack…your poem comes to me in Santa Fe with five inches of fresh snow on a beautiful and quiet morning in the Sangre de Cristo mountains…ahhh so peaceful…my coffee and your poem a perfect start to the day…much love to you brother…ta

    • Tony, my man, you always lift this heart. I can feel the poem
      landing where it belongs–with you. And that poem belongs
      in that glorious setting, too.
      Thank you and may the skis carry you under good skies.

  2. This poem is such a marvel. I wouldn’t dare make a JR Greatest Hits Playlist dating back to THE SAME GHOST because it would be too long, but if I did, this poem would up at the top. Only a master could embrace the “tumultuous flutter” of the turkeys in flight, in a poem about quiet; of course the quiet is, masterfully, louder for the turkeys. “The light /glistened along the sheen of their backs bringing / gold and green out from what against the drifts / seemed only a study in black.” Description Bishop herself would have bowed to. Astonishing poem.


    • Chris, honest to everything, I shivered as I read this, and can feel still
      that shiver as I try to type some overjoyed response other than limpid
      mumbling. Please know, dammit, please know what this means to me, especially
      coming from a master at attentiveness and the unity of all things. As you
      know, it’s so difficult to know if ya done good. Your affirmation makes
      my hope a certainty and this heart ever grateful for you.

    • To hear “quietly lustrous” enables me to know that
      the poem is what I hoped it was. Thank you so much
      for telling me this. It’s hard to know ’cause the
      writer is often too close and can be fooled by
      ones own self. Again, thank you. And I am
      so delighted that it found its way to you.

  3. Dear Jack!
    Your poem is a miracle, a soothing medicine in this loud world. While I read it again with a cuppa the only “noise” around me is the calm breathing of the dog and the cracking of the fireplace. What more can I expect of the day that has just about started here in Tuebingen, Germany.
    Thank you!

    • Oh my goodness, Norbert. Oh my goodness, what a joy you
      have brought to me. We were together: me with you through
      the poem, you with me. What you describe here is what I have
      tried and tried to do for everyone: to temper the spiritual
      destruction through my tries at a poem, one poem at a time,
      thinking always of the multitude of souls out there suffering
      through this appallingly cruel, inhumane time. Thank you,
      my friend from afar who is actually right here always.

  4. Pingback: Time to think… | artworking

    • It’s sooooo good when you know that a poem has been helpful, so so so good.
      Thank you for telling me. It’s the only way to know if what I’m doing is

  5. silence is the place I often go to find the absence of chaos and drama. Just so’s you know, I take your books with me, turn the pages softy. Your words always confirm the worth of bees, trees, dogs and snow. What better way to find solace?

    • Julie, how I love this and you. I will always picture the turning of the pages softly, how
      much that says about what I try to bring about. To know this of you is a great good comforting
      affirmation. My thanks across the sky.

  6. Thank you, Jack, for this beautiful, wintry poem. A welcome snapshot of beauty for a snowy, February morning in my city which lacks turkeys!!

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