Ben Seanor: I Don't Say a Word
The Old Silence
These beetles come to die
on my kitchen tiles, in my colander,
under the coffee table;
into my apartment
with its bare white walls
and ceiling, they burrow
into the carpet, crawl up
to the windows,
try to continue the work
of making the earth
My heart wasn’t done
when it got snapped into place,
a valve got warped.
Now the whole heart,
a dud, mutters to itself, works
itself into fits. Then, while I’m
driving or reading or testing
avocados in the store, I feel a jerk in
the deep of my chest.
After my father’s heart went small and ivory,
I cut out pork, coffee, veal. I started exercising,
moved a thousand miles from his grave.
The tiny blister
beetle in my bathroom sink
does not feel
what it wants, what it wants exists
in every cell; it is this drive
to move across the unknown
that we should’ve named,
not the thing that crawls
around the drain:
the dream of this apartment
building alive, covered
in plants, filled with insects
and the animals they bring.
My father wanted me to love fishing
so I would love fishing with him.
We would go and sit
away from everything.
The wobbling ocean, the haze
of salt and light.
The horizon rolling over itself.
I hated it I wasn’t a child I stopped going.
He couldn’t tell me (not with his stage voice, his laugh that filled
the entire house and our bodies) about being mute with someone you love.
How he’d learned men were allowed to be
I hear my father’s voice
and its opposite
as I throw away the empty
sclerite that held my house
guests, move the last live one outside,
get ready for bed. Turn off the lights.
How can I tell them the party’s over?
The fish back home make
the first to the bottom
of the water, the second past
the ground; this last journey:
a slide that shrinks
their bones to dolomite,
so the aquifer can clean the worry
from the rain, drain our poisons
through its little white deaths.
Falling asleep, my faulty valve trips:
fifteen, on my knees
with a wet towel, scrubbing
dried blood from where
my father fell in a way
that both broke his nose and made it
the least of his problems.
I don’t say a word. I don’t tell anyone. I bury the towel in the trash.
They will come, with their soft
shined black bodies,
their unknowable engines
of desire, in the hours
after I accept the dark
slide of the dirt-night;
I will be ready then.
They will join me,
a final meal with the only friends
who have always sought me out.
It takes so long to learn to be alone.
How full this silence becomes
when the world finally gets us to sleep, touches
our foreheads one last time.
Ben Seanor is in America.