LESSONS ON SILENCE, BY MARTHA SILANO
When finches stop chirping, when jays. Each day, a little less.
Silent sun. Silent clouds. Silent moon. The Russian sage,
snuffed out with neglect.
The intoxicating quiet of deer fern, sorrel, salal.
The mountain ash: an orange scream
from which you turn away.
You can say you're frightened of the infinite sky,
of the summer when all the floating docks
stayed docked, when the children
lining up for the high dive were good as ghosts.
Sharing breakfast with the squeaky wheels
of a UPS truck, the absence of squeaking
when it wheezes away. Wind rustling
through leaves is an actual thing,
but today there is no wind.
To shut up already about the berries you didn't pick,
the cake you didn't bake, about that final visit
to see your mother
you scrapped. Save your breath, as she would say. The pen you dropped
in a lake without a kerplunk. From Old French, from Latin silentium,
"a being silent." What am I not saying? What I am leaving out.
Martha Silano has authored five books of poetry, including Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books, 2019), What the Truth Tastes Like (Two Sylvias Press, 2015), Reckless Lovely (Saturnalia Books, 2014), and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. She is also co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice (Two Sylvias Press, 2013). Martha’s poems have appeared in Paris Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, New England Review, and North American Review, among others. Awards include the James Hearst Poetry Prize and the Robert and Adele Schiff Award in Poetry. Her work appears in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Poetry series, She teaches at Bellevue College and Seattle's Hugo House. Samples of her work can be found at marthasilano.net.