When you left, I felt exhausted
and so was the room we fought in.
The front door stammered behind you
and in came silence—a recreational drug,
a fast forming habit that untied its shoelaces,
sank into the loveseat and prepared to stay
up with me all night.
Survival depends on the breath and its silences—
the in-between spaces and their rumors.
When I claimed silence during our fights, you’d
answer me with anger as if quietness
was a personal affront instead of a house of ruin
where gravity bore down on us—
a horned instrument—all the notes gone.
What if I told you silence worked as a sweetener—
Boston eclairs or an island vacation where 
we could rely on a good time. When you left,
silence looked me in my one good eye, believed in me.
Let’s play a game, silence said. Let’s see who
speaks first. Then we washed and salted
the pasta, the delicately spiced sauce.

SUSAN RICH is the author of five books, most recently, Cloud Pharmacy, shortlisted for the Julie Suk Prize, honoring poetry books from independent presses and The Alchemist’s Kitchen, Finalist for the Washington Book Award.  She has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to South Africa, PEN USA Award for Poetry and the Times (of London) Literary Supplement Award. Her poems appear in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Harvard Review, New England Review,  O Magazine, and World Literature Today. Susan is co-founder of Poets on the Coast, now in its 9th year. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA; she teaches film and writing at Highline College.  

Author photo by Rosanne Olson

Featured image by Alexandra Haynak from Pixabay