To strip away this incessant chatter,
yes, but what lies underneath it?
Death, of course, or our fear of death.
Which is why we talk so much,
bury our heads in books, turn forests
into pages and pages into mirrors
in which we see ourselves appear
and disappear. When I look up
from the story I've been reading
about the Jews in Nazi Germany
and the silence that closed their
mouths forever, I see a girl outside
the cafe smiling in at her father
who smiles back but cannot hear her.
She makes all kinds of gestures
with her hands, mimes herself
inside an invisible box and breaks
down laughing. Then she gathers
her breath and blows it against
the window. It is not snowing
outside, the leaves have hardly begun
to turn, the season is merely poised
for the long descent, but still
the glass steams up. And in this
little cloud of warmth that's come
from deep inside her body, she
writes a single joyful word, which
vanishes almost before she finishes.