You and I, we like to sit and work, not talking.
Imagistically, what are we saying
When our hands snap green beans into thirds
Or twist yarn around itself, around its own neck,
Strangling its straight and narrow out of it,
Enslaving it to be what it will soon be?
You worked up a silence like a healthy sweat,
The quiet is dripping off you and rising
In two matted-cotton vapors, muffs for my ears.
A smile could start me like a shout or gunshot,
So loud are your expressions once I've grown used
To coasting on butter with the wheels in my head.
I have always worn your never-talking
With the resignation of a harnessed horse,
Blinking at the barn door beyond the stall gate.
I leap a fence like a bronco occasionally,
Just to see if my voice still has steady legs,
But always land on your surprise and reluctance.
I and you, we sit alone together so often,
Islands slightly more quiet in air that is
A doldrum ocean softly too quiet.
Fishing for one more crochet stitch to wring,
More food to prepare for Winter storage,
Sitting on the beach, we have nothing left to discuss.
This poem is dedicated to my sister, whom I wrote it about,
and to my good friend Nate, who said he really liked it.