a close up of a person playing a piano


Nancy Burke
The evening speaks its
ninety-seven languages of
silence all at once,
quite the cacophony
for ears used to
hearing just a fistful of
noise, footfall, door slam,
somebody swearing at a bus
stop while the beast exhales
its sigh, loud as an explosion.
No, this caesura weaves you
forward and back
from thread to thread,
polyphonies of hum
all the world’s not-speaking,
choirs of mouths that open and
shut in the carpeted stairwell,
carrying their heavy,
empty packages up.

you think you hear
symphonies, the after-
echoes of the plucked string,
song of joy, or fear’s song,
but the water is unrippled
and all it can do is
hold its mirror out far
above the detonations and
the whispered good-byes
so you can see with your own
eyes how you look when
you exist, how your words look
when they don’t.

Nancy Burke is a poet, fiction writer, psychoanalyst and psychotherapy activist from Evanston IL. Her work has appeared in Story International, After Hours, American Poetry Journal, Confrontation, Whitefish Review, Alaska Quarterly Review and other literary publications, and has won numerous prizes. Her well-reviewed novel, Undergrowth, was published by Gibson House Press. She recently completed the manuscript of a second novel, The Box, for which she is currently in search of a home.