At the heart of all our ponderous work is a loud silence. Some stillness in the midst of the busy. As when the teacher says, Now write for fifteen minutes, and the class falls to, bent over their notebooks — you can hear the scritch-scratch of pens, a last whispered flirt or giggle, the jiggle of butts against seats, and, far away, the sigh of cars on the freeway. If you listen, you can hear the pregnant woman dully sucking ice halfway through an eighteen-hour labor. You can hear the guy on the stalled power mower breathe a moment before cursing and wiping his face. In the end, all our striving comes to nothing. You knew that already. And in the middle. You knew that too. The secretary, lulled into trance by the screen saver’s hum, gazes out the window, twisting her earring, and forgets for a moment all the details of her upcoming wedding, forgets even the name of her fiancé. All our lives we hear the roar of that silence and we thrash against it, as the baby in the womb thrashes toward the waiting nipple and the enormous light.