In memory of Dr. Johnson

There's a secret curve down the straight

music hallway. Songs in the draft

of every office add girth to my ears as I

walk viola tremors wrap around soprano songs

that clasp onto bassoon bellows.

The loudest sound today was the slapping of my

lungs to my ribs as I passed the silent office.

It was often quiet, I never heard an organ preach.

But an organ is not like a piccolo, no room

in the office.

There is a difference between quiet and silent.

When the office was quiet, I could tweeze shuffling

papers, or voices from the room. Inert sneezes

or eager pupils.

But silence is the doorknob trimmed with carnations,

a note telling blanched students where to meet

for class, the twilight seeping through venetian

blinds, the fear of breathing easily.

Silence is forced swallow, and the first line

of this poem.

Kerry Balzer


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