Silent Song


I take you from my pocket

and unravel you;

you’ve tied yourself in knots again.

My fingers work to untangle you,

fast like smokers’ hands.


Under breeze-brushed trees,

whose rhythm I had not noticed,

you place the beat in bird wings,

turn dew-dropped roads to rivers,

mark meaning in empty meadows.


Whispering in both my ears at once,

you turn a night out into night-time,

the type with moon and stars and street lamps.


This poem came to me in bits and pieces. It started when I was in my room, getting ready for bed. I was on my phone, and I think I must’ve been flicking through the ‘new music’ bit of Apple Music because I came across an artist I hadn’t heard of before: Billie Marten. I started listening to a song by her (Teeth) and it just swept me away. It was beautifully melancholic and peaceful, and it seemed to echo exactly how I’d been feeling that day.

The song was also meaningful to me because for the past few weeks the only times I’d really listened to music was on nights out with my friends or flatmates, and it would always be ear-achingly loud dance or grime. Sitting on the edge of my bed that evening, listening to Billie Marten’s soft voice singing through my headphones, it felt a world away from those flashing lights and dance floors. I scribbled down the line ‘you turn a night out into night-time/ the type with moon and stars and street lamps’ then went to sleep.

A few days later I was walking home from a lecture and felt an urge to listen to the song again. I hastily took my headphones out of my pocket and of course, they were tangled. That’s how the first line of the poem popped into my head.

The rest came shortly after; it was a lovely autumnal day and the path back to the student accommodation wound under gold-leaved trees and past an empty lot of grass. I started thinking about how the music seemed to add extra meaning and significance to it all, and later as I sat in a campus Starbucks (conforming to the uni student stereotype) I tried to convey that idea as I put all the bits and pieces together into the poem you see above.