“When I’m Trying to Listen,” by Martha Silano

Reading by the author

when I’m really trying to listen, I lower the flame
on my anxiety burner.
The jay so insistent,

incessant. Not taking any shit. The wind chimes tinkling
this will go on forever. The little Bewick’s wren
by the steps, a descending whistle

ending fuck fuck fuck. Its frail-twig feet: the snow
will return. The big-leaf maple by the sign
Road End.

I think I’ve stopped dreaming
because I dream all day.

in my kitchen. Leaning against the counter
in my gray nightgown with the pockets
inside out like two panting dogs,

avoiding the advanced math of my future,
the geometry of looking back.
The book said if you stop

dreaming, place six kernels of corn
on your pillow at night. When I want to know
what the trees are saying, I put down my glass,

close my eyes, recall the large trout
near the shore of Margaret Lake. Surrounding it
must’ve been subalpine fir, or was it cedar, silver?

They talk to me about the luck
of a dying match. May
I dream and forget.

Martha Silano has authored five full-length collections of poetry, most recently Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books, 2019). She is also co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Martha’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She teaches at Bellevue College and Seattle’s Hugo House. Her website is available at marthasilano.net

Image: “Sun set” by Anthony Burt

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