The Relativity of Noise

Tree log

Speaking as a tree that fell
in the forest with no one there
to hear, acknowledge, or record
the sound made as my trunk split,
inexplicably, splintered, and finally
crashed, I can report, that it was loud.

Deafening, ironically, had you been
there, waves traveled 1,087 feet per
second, flooding the copse. Disorienting,
the way that live flame can feel icy.
In extremis, hot and cold overwhelm
the senses. Ditto silence and sound
at full volume become acoustic mirrors.

Consider the astronaut orbiting the void.
Absolute quiet vibrates with enough
force to inspire puncturing an ear drum.
But even if you take my word for it,
are moved, convinced by my ardent
testimony, account of the event that
transpired at the end of my tenure
as an Evergreen, it must be settled,
asked and answered, conditionally,
if a tree, like myself, falls in the forest
and no one is present to bear witness,
be bothered, no matter how emphatic
the crescendo, can it be considered, noise?

Sound is sound, no matter the presence
or lack of any purposeful or inadvertent
listener. The stipulation of noise implies
the idea of intrusion, interruption, irritation
in an otherwise serene suspension. But
in the absence of any consciousness
that might react, recoil, start, take
righteous umbrage, then this formerly
impressive conifer must admit, no noise
was made as I exploded, scattered, hit mossy
earth. But, damn, if I didn’t make a sound.

All Koans aside, it was a big bang, minus
the fallout of creation. No one can deny this,
take it away. The absence of any restive ear,
changes nothing. I know what happened. Even
if completely alone, still, I was there.

Poem by M.E. Mishcon

M..E. Mishcon’s fiction and poetry has been published in: The G.W. Review, The Arkansan Review, Aaduna, Blue Unicorn, Boston Literary Magazine, The Literary Nest, Girls Gone 50, The Berkshire Review, and Urthona. Her essays have appeared in The Women’s Times, The Artful Mind, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Albany Times Union, The Berkshire Edge, among others. Her novel, Just Between Us, won first prize from Birmingham Southern University’s Hackney Award. Her work has also been noted for commendation by Serpentine (1st Prize), and New Millennium. She is a practicing psychotherapist, and lives in The Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts.