Against Silence

By Andrea Hollander

Featured Art: L’Heure du silence by Henri Georges J. I. Meunier

After I confessed, all I’d hear
was the scratch of my father’s ballpoint
against his prescription pad
as I stood before him at his office desk
on the first floor of our house. Yes,
I’d say, I did it, I left the mower out
all night, forgot
to turn the sprinkler off, lied
about the party,
the pack of cigarettes,
the exact hour I got home.

His hours or sometimes days
of silence entered our house
like an unwelcome guest,
an intruder we agreed
to treat with kindness,
each of us saying Sit here
when we didn’t want him
to sit anywhere.

After I apologized and promised
never to do it again, whatever it was,
after I made his coffee
in the morning, served it
with two Lorna Doones on the saucer
beside the china cup, sometimes
he would thank me.
But even then I didn’t know
if it would take one more
silent dinner or two
before I’d hear forgiveness
in his voice, that other guest
who arrived unpredictably
while I wept myself to sleep,
that guest whose safe return
I prayed for, the one
my mother prayed for, too,
she told me later, that guest
she thought she’d married
in the first place.

Andrea Hollander moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011, after more than three decades in the Arkansas Ozarks, where she ran a B&B for 15 years and served as Writer-in-Residence at Lyon College for 22. Her 4th poetry collection was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; her 1st won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Numerous other honors include two Pushcart Prizes and two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts.

Originally published in NOR 18: Fall 2015

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