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  • Emma Palmer


This quiet. It’s neither inside nor out, although I burrow to the centre to listen, to catch one of its delicate tendrils. Quiet is heard, felt, not happened upon. It’s not an easy win, because winning and losing are nonsense. If it were a place it would be beyond rights and wrongs, political allegiance, tribes, arguing online with unknown avatars. We’re no longer taught to recognise quiet. Or only with beneficial endgames in mind – ‘enlightenment’ in meditation; deep relaxation when ‘forest bathing’; more meaningful connection through a pregnant pause in therapy.

I go nowhere to hear this quiet, and I don’t necessarily hear it on stopping. It’s a little like the wild – neither inside nor out but everywhere when we’re not bewildered by human chaos. Be-wildered. The wild of the quiet. Active, receptive, still. It’s be-riching. The vast cavernous womb receiving the detonation of the fertilised egg. The expanse of still water upon which dawn paints, just for a moment, her pinks and yellows. The bliss of non-reaction and whole-hearted equanimity. Sitting still, poised. The eyes of a fur-being gazing into the eyes of a skin-being with a smiling nod of total, timeless recollection. Shhh! Can you hear?

In this age, at this age, the quiet calls, beckons. Disorientated by her tugging arm on my tattered, centuries old dress, a final, silent drop of blood. Sometimes I’m afraid of her. Afraid of her call, rather than the quiet itself. Easier, cleverer, and more rewarded for staying in the world of the known and the knowing where we’ll never find answers to things that can’t, anyway, be answered by a simplistic, single answer and a solo voice. The devastating addiction of having to know, of having to act, of having to be seen to act, of being right and oh so certain ‘get it done’ - blow the consequences. So much we need to know, blindly slashing and burning. Yet the knowing’s been here all along – look down here, it’s all around our rich marshy roots, mingling beneath the seen.

Sobbing at the loss of life, the enslaved lives: children, elephants, pigs in cages for law, entertainment, food (is that really nourishment?) I cry for the silenced quiet of those children, elephants, and pigs who wait, knowing their fate. I cry at the finger pointing, it’s always someone else, it’s either this or that, it’s structural change not individual change. Screaming – not quiet! - as jolly Breakfast Time presenters grin. ‘Another day of ‘glorious’ heatwave’, records breaking, children shrieking and paddling, happily eating ice cream, the cracks in the earth silently widening and deepening, the grass burning. Tell the truth! For all the yet to be beings and those who are here now, withering silently on scorched valley floors, other shrieking children falling off boats, flailing, sinking, forgotten - the wrong coloured skin.

Can you hear? A barely discernible heartbeat – elephant, human, or is the roar of the tides? I dive through those cracks, spiralling downwards through the mingling. It’s not an underworld, it’s the finding, at the end of the beginning - nameless and formless. Not goddess, nor divine femininity nor anything personified. The quiet heart of everything, full and resonating, beat by noble beat.

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