I just learned that Maya Angelou passed away at 86. I loved Maya Angelou’s voice. I remember listening to her recite the poem she had written for Bill Clinton’s inauguration. I was worried for her as she stepped up to that podium before those thousands of people gathered for a day of pomp. Poetry is such a quiet and gentle medium and politics is so rough and raucous, and the writer in me stood with her wondering if the poet’s voice could be heard above the din of political triumph. Hers could. I loved the poem so much I hunted it down (this in the days before the internet), hoping to commit it to memory as I did with all my favorite poems. Strangely, I did not love it as much reading it to myself as I did listening to her recite it. The words themselves were lovely, but somehow she had found the song in them I could not.
Hard to believe she had once silenced herself. She had been raped as a child, and after telling some relatives what had happened, the man was murdered. She believed her voice had the power to kill, and so she did not talk for years.
I am sorry I will not get to hear her recite anymore poems or tell anymore stories, but I choose to believe that she had said all she needed to say. She chose silence once, why not again? Silence, after all, is where we go as we to find what we wish to say. It is the mother of all creation, the womb from which all words come, and where all words must return.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.