Wanting Silence

“Even a poem is too loud.”

—A. R. (“Archie”) Ammons


Wanting Silence

Fox walks as slowly as she can

where pine needles soften a raw earth trail,

toe-to-heel, toe-to-heel, the way

her father taught her when she

knew he was king of the world.

She doesn’t want to write a sonnet.

She doesn’t want new words at all,

but just to touch rough moss and roots

and find the orange mushrooms growing

where a black branch fell and stayed.

There! A single lady slipper

palest purple and rounded fragile

blossom on a slender stalk:

quiet, Fox thinks, alone and simple

in a world forced by machines.

No one is allowed to touch it.

So few know it’s rare and frail.

A blossom far from noise and uproar.

A talisman. A grail.


-Kathryn Howd Machan


Katharyn Howd Machan’s most recent publication is What the Piper Promised, winner of the 2018 Alexandria Quarterly Press chapbook competition. She lives in Ithaca, New York, with fellow poet Eric Machan Howd and teaches in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College.