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I know better than to enter
the mountain ranges of Silence alone and unarmed,
because I know they will be there, too, the
Voices.
Today I picked up a phrase, a walking stick to carry
with me, God, what is it
that I should do?
It was light
in my hands, an easy burden.

Still, the Voices waited, sidled up next
to me, tried to lead me down familiar slivers.
Before I pulled my way through the first line
of brambles, the
Voices had me arguing in my mind
with other writers who do not appreciate
my genius, and literary people who have not embraced
my work, and friends who have never
read my books,

but then I remembered the hiking stick I brought
with me, God, what is it
that I should do?
I sank
into those words and the silence between

them.

The Voices dispersed
when they saw what I carried with me. They are fragile
enemies, fickle
friends. It is always a relief to leave
them behind.

Silence is a beautiful range, once you get beyond
the brambles, up into the hills that fold
over one another, with peaks that glow
like honey in the light, and valleys dark as
warmth. There is hope there, and peace, if you
remember to take a walking stick, if you
can get in beyond the tangled undergrowth
of Voices.

Fifteen minutes later
– or a lifetime – I always emerge washed
by the thin air. I always descend
a changed being. Silence will follow you back out,
if you let it. Silence will
remind you there is A Voice
beyond the voices, one that will
rename you
if you let it.