Silent Screams

This morning I heard the news from my parents that the son of old friends of theirs – a boy a few years older than me, who I had taken a class with at Uni and had known casually most of my life – died this week from throwing himself in front of a train. Though I had not known him well, the news was naturally horrifying – the sort of thing that you know happens often but never to someone you know, whose face you can recall instantly and whose existence you have always taken for granted, for never having known a time when they did not exist.

I know only the smallest fraction of the story and it isn’t even really my place to comment on what happened to him. However, it reminds me of the unbelievable agonies that many people know inwardly every day of their lives and which others around them cannot even begin to imagine. I pray that we can all be sources of comfort and hope to those in our lives who know the kind of pain that must have plagued this boy. It is impossible to know why or to explain such grief; yet let’s pray that we can prevent it or shine light into it in others’ lives, wherever it is in our power to do so.

Silent Screams

He had my brother’s name and we
Sometimes met in lecture rooms
And seminars, or restaurants,
With passing words and smiles.

And there were some vague memories too:
Afternoons at family homes,
Christmas letters bearing news,
And clippings from the paper.

As a child, I think, he sang
In soprano voice, though I
Never heard him sing and knew
This only from afar.

We did not know, could not conceive
The griefs that drove him out
Before the train, onto the rails,
Amidst the silent screams.

It’s always someone you don’t know
Whose face emblazons news reports;
But though I do not know his pain,
I know his name and face.

He had my brother’s name and we
Sometimes spoke on passing by.
I hear his screams now but cannot
Run out to set him free.

6 thoughts on “Silent Screams

  1. This brought tears to my eyes, both your recollection and the poem it inspired. Indeed, we should try be be one another’s strength. I will not dare judge anyone for their choices, but if I can be an instrument in getting people to hold on, I’d take that responsibility and privilege anytime.

    1. Thankyou…I’m touched that you found it so moving. It certainly prompted me to think about what I can do to be a comfort and help to others like him. I hope that more people can be inspired to make a difference wherever they can.

  2. Thanks for such a moving poem. You highlight the pain through the memories while still reminding us to seek to find ways to help the living wherever we can.

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