Begin with a world smothered
as if with snow.
Consider the sounds you cannot hear
without your hearing aids–
the fan above the stove, soft engine
of your cat where he curls
asleep on the wicker chair.
Then, go outside in the sun
of the day just turned
to spring and notice what is missing:
the church bell that bongs the hours,
the sweet music of birds you see
crisscrossing sky in all their busyness,
even the dancing fiddlesticks of the brook.
You can almost hear the absence.
What is lost? How in music
all the notes play off each other,
how the violins at a concert
didn’t used to sound like screeching.
You could sit with friends
and hear more than a few words
or go to a poetry reading
or a class or a lecture or a movie–
all those things closed to you now.
But sometimes you like the quiet–
muffling blanket over life’s uproar.
Not complete silence but walls
around your mind, the way ice thickens
on a pond with no wind.
It’s like a stopped car in no traffic,
or the feathers of a sleeping bird,
clouds outside a closed window,
like space and sky.
It’s a cow lying down in August heat
or the empty raft in the middle of a lake,
like pine boughs heavy with rain,
an empty bowl,
shadow, shadow, shadow.
Patricia Fargnoli’s fifth book of poetry, Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, was published by Tupelo Press in 2017. Her previous books have won awards: The May Swenson Book Award, Sheila Motton Poetry Book Award, the New Hampshire Literary Poetry Book Award, and others. She’s been a resident at the Macdowell Colony. Fargnoli’s poems have appeared widely in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly etc.