Refusing Silence

By Tess Gallagher b. 1943 Tess Gallagher
Heartbeat trembling
your kingdom
of leaves
near the ceremony
of water, I never
insisted on you. I admit
I delayed. I was the Empress
of Delay. But it can’t be
put off now. On the sacred branch
of my only voice – I insist.
Insist for us all,
which is the job
of the voice, and especially
of the poet. Else
what am I for, what use
am I if I don’t
insist?
There are messages to send.
Gatherings and songs.
Because we need
to insist. Else what are we
for? What use
are we?

Tess Gallagher, “Refusing Silence” from Amplitude: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1987 by Tess Gallagher. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org

Source: Amplitude: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1987)

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Poet Tess Gallagher b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Tess  Gallagher

Biography

Poet, essayist, and short story writer Tess Gallagher was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington, to a logging family. Her early years were marked by the rhythms of seasonal work, as well as the landscape of both the Northwest and the Ozarks, where her grandparents lived. “I don’t know how many children really get to explore vast amounts of territory like that,” she has said in interviews. “It builds something in you.” . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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