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What we call silence here, closed in for two short
days, does not mean there is no sound.
Remove the chatter from a group of people
even for just a couple of hours, you’ll still

hear footsteps on the wooden floors, other
footsteps on a gravel path outdoors, the rattle
of ill-fitting sash windows as the wind stirs.
Machines are hard at work somewhere, keeping

water hot; they’re audible in some subsonic way.
Someone shifts a plastic box a few inches.
The air from out of doors will carry
car noise, though not as much as in the city.

Even if the kitchen is at a distance,
something will clang or bang as cooks
create the mid-day meal. And making art
won’t happen in a vacuum: little

clicks as brushes swirl in cups of water
when you shift from one color to another—
some tiny vibration trickles through the room.
This pen. This page. Someone’s sigh.


Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017).  Her poems appear or are forthcoming in many print and online journals, both in the U.S. and in the U.K. She is a poetry editor for the online journal Right Hand Pointing. Recently retired from full-time employment, she spends most of her time doing as she pleases.

© 2020, Annie Stenzel

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