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TO A ROMAN
by Jeff Burt

I wait silently on the promise of my son’s return.
At times I pushed too hard,
pushed him away when pulling in,
pushed him into a well when my pail
of words drowned rather than drew him out.
He was the voice at the bottom, an echo
that children hear and parents don’t.

To a Roman, waiting meant being mute
for a long time, not like the trumpet
of the voice capped for an interlude
but a horn never played, down at the side,
silent in the way a crippled man’s legs
sit in a wheelchair, or a memory
frozen by senility cannot find its way
down the tongue and off the lips.

It has been years since my voice was broken.
I wait for him to know if it has recovered. I wait.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While Lawrence Ferlinghetti [in his poem “I am waiting”] finds ways to throw in waiting for the proverbial kitchen sink, my mind is much less diminished. I can only work on a slender thing. “To A Roman” has its genesis in silencing a child by saying too much and watching him withdraw. Parents have sound bites they repeat like tics as a child grows older, seeming harmless tics, yet they help drive the child away.

IMAGE: “Silence” by Odilon Redon (1900).

Jeff Burt Photo TF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff Burt has work published or forthcoming in Eclectica, Typehouse, Storm Cellar, Windfall, and The Cortland Review. He won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award.