How To Claim Silence

by Charlotte Matthews

When you say to me, I believe,
it holds much power.
But the mind wanders
more readily than the body.
That’s why the coon dog,
bone tired, circles
the coil rug over and over,
steadying her mind.
Orchard blossoms
piteously bright,
I have the urge to climb
the ladder, wrap my hands
round the top rung,
let go with my feet.
Let’s say it
this way: in the East,
if you circumambulate
a sacred place,
you acquire merit.
I pace around my mother
as she reads in her wingchair,
making of the rug’s perimeter
a balance beam, following
the flower pattern as it passes,
waiting for something
she is never going to say.


Author of two full length collections, Still Enough to Be Dreaming and Green Stars (both Iris Press), CHARLOTTE MATTHEWS’ Whistle What Can’t Be Said is forthcoming from Unicorn Press. Recently her work has appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Mississippi Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Ecotone. Her honors include fellowships from The Chatauqua Institute, The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Currently she teaches writing in The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program at The University of Virginia.