Apple orchard at sunrise. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.
Jim McKinley—Getty Images
By Maurice Manning
July 26, 2018

Why don’t you try just being quiet?

If you can find some silence, maybe

you can listen to it. How it works

is interesting. I really can’t

explain it, but you know it when

it’s happening. You realize

you’re marveling at apple blossoms

and how they’re clustered on the tree

and you see the bees meticulously

attending every blossom there,

and you think the tree is kind of sighing.

Such careful beauty in the making.

And then you think, it’s really quiet,

but I am not alone in this world.

That’s how you know it’s happening,

there’s something solemn and wonderful

in the quiet, a slow and steady ease.

Whether the tree is actually sighing

is beside the point. It’s better to wonder,

you needn’t be precise with quiet,

it just becomes another thing.

It isn’t a science, it’s an art,

like love, or a dog who’s pretty good,

asleep in the grass beneath the tree.

Manning, a Kentucky native, is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and author, most recently, of One Man’s Dark

This story is part of TIME’s August 6 special issue on the American South. Discover more from the issue here.

This appears in the August 06, 2018 issue of TIME.

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