Communications

Sent in after new ground was taken,
my father ducked from ditch to shell-hole,
unwinding the telephone cable behind him,
a pfc. cast as Mercury, connecting   
the gods with the lesser gods.

Funny to think of him trailing
the complex filament of speech,
that man, neither shy nor sullen,
who answered only “Yes,” “No,” “Maybe,”
and never volunteered a private thought.

Standing off with his hands in his pockets
or cupping a cigarette, he seemed to be waiting
with the great rural patience of fields
for whatever might rise pure and nameless
or fall from the sky beyond explanation.

If anyone asked what he was thinking,
he said, “Nothing,” and when he died
he rushed out leaving everything unsaid,
uncoiling a dark line into darkness
down which a familiar silence roars.

Neal Bowers, "Communications" from Out of the South, published by Louisiana State University Press. Copyright © 2002 by Neal Bowers.  Reprinted by permission of Neal Bowers.
Source: Out of the South (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)
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