He listened, very well.
He could not help himself.
Every sound he heard he remembered,
Making a great library of music inside himself.
He didn’t mean to, but could not help himself.
A sound asks for attention, and he gave it.
He stored much of that noise in his head,
But his knuckles cracked some out when he bent them,
And other body parts did the same.
Noé was full to overflowing with what he heard
And he stored those noises everywhere he could,
Frowning at his noise-leaking knees when he knelt.
When he listened, he listened slowly
And people mistook this for simplemindedness.
But it was the opposite. It was instead
That he took great care to hear,
Something so rare in others
They did not recognize it.
He listened quietly but it was as if he was ravenous,
And took the sounds of the world in
As if it were all food, meant just for him.
If noise had calories,
He would have been enormous.
And when Noé read, it was slow as well,
Every paragraph a great garden,
Every book a city.
Though they pretended not to,
Those letters, those words, those exclamation points
All made a sound
Just as sure as if they had been whispered.
Through it all, for years, he could not speak.
He could not open his mouth.
It was a fear he had, a certainty,
That if he did, his voice would let go
Something that mattered—not to others,
But to himself, something that fit
The perfect, building concert inside himself
Made by the rest of the sounds at their work.
They filled him, held him up, and to let go of even one
Would be to falter, to stumble.
Instead, quite wisely he felt, he kept quiet,
But this only reinforced what people thought of him.
It was well known that, when asked a question,
He did not answer. People thought the worst.
They could not see inside Noé, hear what was there,
Understand that he could not answer,
That he was at his work all the time,
Sorting through the great harvest of his ears—
Clear in his belief
That the world had something very great to say
And that, when he found it, he would say it
And give people their turn to listen.