The Poet’s Dead Husband Breaks the Silence

Listen. You understand right? The dead have no choice, but silence – like one night we woke up drifting between galaxies. But five years past doomsday, she’s still lashing me upright, pouring words down my throat. Christmases, her family tangling each other in nets, I dished up a little more lasagna, scratched the dog’s rump. Forty years I lived on the banks of the rapids and it’s not like I chose death over the rush, but silence has its blessings. But she’s in a frenzy to find me some speech. If I could say anything – and you get it, right? I can’t say anything - I’d remind her how, after they took my leg, I woke up out of the morphine doze to feel that foot – the one already on its way to the incinerator – flat against the hospital sheet and feeling a crease and a cool spot under the ghost heel. I’d tell her, look dear, I’m your phantom limb - a habit of love before the work of atrophy. The wandering light from a star so distant, by the time you see it, the core’s exploded, the heat’s flamed out and whatever anchored that slice of universe has made its peace with silence.



Gail C DiMaggio