What do you think of my new glasses I asked as I stood under a shade tree before the joined grave of my parents,
and what followed was a long silence that descended on the rows of the dead and on the fields and the woods beyond,
one of the one hundred kinds of silence according to the Chinese belief, each one distinct from the others,
but the differences being so faint that only a few special monks were able to tell one from another.
They make you look very scholarly, I heard my mother say once I lay down on the ground
and pressed an ear into the soft grass. Then I rolled over and pressed my other ear to the ground,
the ear my father likes to speak into, but he would say nothing, and I could not find a silence
among the one hundred Chinese silences that would fit the one that he created even though I was the one
who had just made up the business of the one hundred Chinese silences— the Silence of the Night Boat,
and the Silence of the Lotus, cousin to the Silence of the Temple Bell only deeper and softer, like petals, at its farthest edges.