A Short History of Silence
by Jane Yeh
(Photo of my gggrandmother, Abigail Smith and her sister Mary Wilson)
In our house, all the clocks are turned off and the mirrors
Don’t work. We sit like bread in a stay-fresh wrapper,
Keep ourselves to our selves. Sometimes the speeches
Are so beautiful it hurts. On the porch where we can’t be
Seen to smile, the honeysuckle meshes with silent
Weeds. We rock back and forth, back and forth in our long
Black dresses. Mosquitoes taste our blood and find it good.
Inside, candles are lit every night and keep going
Until they burn themselves down. We kiss our fingers
To our lips like Italians, promise we’ll never look back.
When the doorbell rings we don’t answer.
In winter, the fur grows long on the horses and the ice
Grows long on the eaves. We sleep in the same bed
Like good animals, braid our hair together, tailor
Our limbs to fit.
Conspiracy of wood