The Sound of Pears, the Colour of Moths & the Heavy Hush


the ear finely attuned
to the extravagant music
of yellow pears ripening
in the scrolled light
of orchards as if the world
were perfect
hears the cicada burst its shell

the quiet man sits
touching his cheek
in a room delicately walled
with the sound of rain

-From Nine Verses of the Same Song by Wendell Berry.

These verses remind me of my grandfather sitting in his tiny upstairs study in Israel, crammed with books and newspapers at every corner. He used to hide my birthday presents there when I was little. I always found them.


Issue 200 of The Paris Review features something quite beautiful for a word lover like me who also responds instinctively to colour: Literary Paint Samples created by Leanne Shapton and Ben Schott, in which the colours are sourced from literature. My favourite is the brown/pink colour called ‘Moth’, taken from one of my favourite passages from Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion:

He will not open the screen and capture their pollened bodies. He did this once and the terrified thrash of the moth—a brown-pink creature who released coloured dust on his fingers—scared them both.

We tend to have our d├ęcor dictated by trends, I much prefer to have it chosen from Ondaatje’s words. And I wonder what the colour of touching your cheek while listening to ripening pears is?


Sitting in the audience is a contradictory experience of bodily awareness and imaginary flight. The first thing I notice when the curtains come up and the lights dim is my own body, hushed in a congregation of strangers. I’m suddenly aware of the slightest movements of those around me: a finger twitching in sympathy with the music, a head bent forward toward the dancers’ movements, the slow exhaling of a bated breath, the shuffling of carefully chosen shoes upon the theatre carpet. Time begins to stretch, and all the insignificant movements we make as human beings are brought into sharp focus. It’s not just the dancers on stage whose bodies become fascinating.

-From In the Audience, written by me. It’s one of my favourite articles I’ve written for The Australian Ballet, so read on, if you’d like.

dark hush

By the way, did you see wordpress put my guest post for Jessica’s blog on their front page? I can’t believe a feminism post made it to freshly pressed.

Image source:  Portrait of Duranty by Edgar Degas.