Poetry 2013 / Volume 44

Silent Gift — Robert Karaszi

Midnight clanged
when her spiraling silhouette anchored down.
Tethered to indomitable irons
your mother’s choice to kill herself,
left your world to me.

We summered in Kingston that year. My conscience boomed,
and I imagined death simpler than this. All the superlative magic
of white flowers, and pumped up promises, smashed:
Now, you’d grow motherless,
as seven stars thrummed above your bassinet.

They said you’d never talk. I heard them say
“Your daughter’s deformed and permanently mute.”
Crib-side that evening I held you,
until the mewling hours
sifted truth through my ears.

By your fourth year, you pantomimed gestures with grimaces
and limbs awkward to me. Together we watched the apple trees
spangled with their gems. On days when you did try to speak
vowels swarmed in your throat, and stirred like sour paste.
I hurried to decipher every utterance.

I learned to listen. Your silence uncoiled a revelation in me.
Today, my daughter Carolyn. I visit the apple trees
windfall sweeps the morning like a departing ghost,
and time has carved me whole-
There was new fruit after this.

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