Search This Blog

Sunday, January 29, 2017


May silence obtain.

May the jittery clatter of nervous energy

cease to beat the ears.

May listening occur,

and attentive hearing.


Amid great silence

sound is cloaked in magic.

Goddesses, sprites, and fairies

tune to what is

while ordinary words become

superfluous effusions.


The silence of water extends to the horizon.

The silence of stones resides in the eternal earth.

In silence we take in the rhythm of our heartbeat.


Filled with silence we hear

the ticking and susurrating of the unseen.

In the face of what need not be put into words,

may we be mute.


Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Joys of Fiction

I left the house that Sunday evening with no particular thought in mind. I left the cozy fire in the library, the snifter of brandy, the book I had been reading. Drawn by an invisible and irresistible thread, I dressed warmly and went out the front door. The rain had stopped but the wind was still howling down from the hills and I was glad to be wearing my heavy cloak with the caped shoulders.


Down the path I went, still tugged by the imaginary thread that pulled me, against my own desire, toward the woods.


Okay. I gave it a try. This is fiction, right? This is me entering the fictional world of a character I can't envision in a land and a time as yet unimagined. A friend suggested writing a sentence and then asking "why?", then answering that with another sentence and asking "why?" again. And so forth until a story forms itself beneath the moving pen.


Well, here's the problem. I don't believe any longer in the power of fiction. That is not really true, but as I read book review after review in the TLS, the New York Times, the New Yorker, I am drawn to fewer and fewer titles. I resist entering these imagined worlds (at least as they are described by the reviewer). Reading about these invented  worlds, I think of the years an author invests to bring these characters, this universe into existence--and it just makes me weary. Do I want to read of yet another adolescent struggling to come to terms with his family, his school, his life, the world in general? The answer is No.


Let me return to the beginning of this essay, to my character from a previous century (presumably the nineteenth) in a different (presumably English) landscape. Will he wander onto the heath? Onto the moors? Toward the sea? Into the remnants of the Great Forest? Does he live in Yorkshire, Sussex, Essex, the Downs, the Lake District? The heart of London? I hope not any of these, because I'd have to engage in research! Just thinking of that exhausts me.


He's left his cozy fireplace for a tramp in howling wind. I ask "why?" but my only answer so far has been that ridiculous "invisible and irresistible thread" pulling him.


Let me re-work him. I'll make him an Indiana farmer from the mid-twentieth century. He is leaving the kitchen, warm and cozy from the heat of the electric oven (his wife is baking bread and two pies, already at seven in the morning). Pulling on his insulated windbreaker, he has stuck his stocking feet into his farm boots (why? Because it's a durned cold Indiana winter) and is being pulled toward the barn by the bellowing of their three cows (why? Because they insist on being milked twice a day, willy-nilly).


Next year, he swears, he's selling the cows and putting his money in hogs. You can't go wrong with hogs in Indiana. And at least you don't have to milk your hogs at seven every morning and five every evening.


He used to keep ducks, which brought in a tidy sum for not much work. But last summer he had slipped—one time too many—on the slimy duck-do in the barnyard and durn near broke his back when he landed. That was when he crated up the ducks and gave them as a wedding gift to the young newlyweds who had bought the neighbouring farm.


Now here, obviously, is the beginning of a story I can get my teeth into. For a paragraph or two, anyway. So what's the next question? How do I decide where to take him?


No, I don't want to take him anyplace. As he heads out to milk the cows, I'll go back to his wife in the kitchen, waiting for the bread and the pies (both of them pumpkin) to finish baking. Company's coming. Why?


Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor

Sunday, January 15, 2017

"Making harmony out of death rattles" (a line from Barry Dempster's "Hard Song")


You can make harmony out of anything

if you set your mind to it.

You can walk past the ce-ment mix-er (putty-putty)

and hum a note in harmony with its endless racket

(they daren't turn those things off, you know, or the cement will set, effectively ending the mixer's

useful life).


You can add your sound to the noise of the subway,

the traffic,

even the jackhammer,

and the result is a harmony that brings your life together.


But I'd never thought of making harmony

from death rattles.

I'll be adding this to my imaginings

of how my death will be:

I will instruct that little band of survivors,

those attending the event,

to hum and tone and wail at the top of their lungs.

I'll urge them to add their living selves,

through the sounds of their bodies,

to the rattle of my dying breaths.


Thus will we face together the opening gate.

Thus will I be accompanied to the threshold.



Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Delicate Operation






Exploring the depths of life's possibilities

is a delicate operation

that should be approached with sensitivity.

And yet life is also a vigorous rush toward

experience and fulfillment.


What's really called for is balance.

Each of us alternates as needed,

one moment invoking our quiet hesitation

and the next throwing caution

where it belongs: to the wild winds.


Some of us spend more time in hesitation than in abandon,

but that's as may be.

We do what we can,

bounded as we are by Philip Larkin's parents,

by the karma of previous generations,

and by the speed with which we can overcome these

and recover the wise innocence of our true selves.