An Understatement, to Call Him Quiet

April Lindner

Rings of quiet rippled from the simple
fact of him. In every room,
a nucleus of stillness where he sat.

When we called he would hand
the phone over: Here's your mother.
Conversation was for wives and daughters.

Our talk poured over him; he'd steep
in the sounds we made.  Near the end,
morphine warped the words he meant to say

his name signed on the DNR:


I read beside him on the bed, his body
whittled, waning.  He started

to tell me about a vacation.
They had a really nice....
then fell into silence, my pages

turning audibly.  Fifteen minutes later:
golf course.
 Later his talk
turned urgent; he wanted dinner: squirglies

in squirgly sauce, and asked my sister
if she'd taken care of the squelchers,
wouldn't rest till she promised

the squelchers were all set.
He called out for Frankie.  Who was Frankie?
Tell your mother.
   Where the bills were kept,

the policies and deeds. At the end he fought
sleep, struggled against the drugs, slung a leg
over the bedrail, climbing out, he had that much

left to tell us, but finally no
engravable last words,
just that nimbus of silence

that wears me lately everywhere I go,
weight that leans against me like a dog
to say in no uncertain terms, I'm here.

April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of two books of poetry, Skin, which received the Walt McDonald First Book Prize from Texas Tech University Press, and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (published by Able Muse Press). With R. S. Gwynn, she co-edited Contemporary American Poetry in Longman’s Penguin Pocket Academics series; she also edited Lineas Conectadas, a bilingual anthology, for Sarabande Books, and Contemporary Poetry of the United States, published in Moscow by OGI Press. She has written three Young Adult novels, published by Poppy. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, she lives in Stockton, New Jersey.

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