Friday, February 2, 2024

A Different Kind of Silence By James Lilliefors

Her eyes stay with the crushed rabbit
in the road longer than I like,
as if she’s never seen a dead anything before.
And then it occurs to me: maybe she hasn’t.

Within seconds, my thoughts have moved on,
and I assume hers have, too.
Nothing is said.
I’m used to things disappearing.

Weeks later, she is walking with me downtown
when a homeless man touches my arm,
and asks for money. I ignore him, and keep going.
But her eyes study my face, longer than I like.
Nothing is said.

Everything at her age is a lesson.
I want her to be good: person, friend,
student, citizen.
Once, I told her that silence can be
a good thing. But this is different,
a different kind of silence.
A silence of absence.

I, too, grew up without explanations
for certain things, and understand the lesson
that saying nothing sends.
The damage it can do.

But that’s another thought
I allow to disappear,
knowing the world will
absorb this silence, and
none will be the wiser for it.


James Lilliefors is a poet, journalist and novelist, whose writing has appeared in Ploughshares, The Washington Post, Door Is A Jar, Snake Nation Review, CandleLit magazine, The Miami Herald and elsewhere. He is a former writing fellow at the University of Virginia.