Reconciling Silence

By Philip Vassallo

PROMPT — I will not rest until ...

“You might wish to live with that poem in silence for a while.”

– Galway Kinnell



You and I stand still, deep in the forest

on the path toward the clearing, waiting for a tree

to fall, but all we hear are each other’s breath,

dried leaves dancing in the wind across

the pine-needled floor, and an occasional

pre-migratory birdsong, taking for granted

the thousandth beat of our heart we also do not hear,

when we could be listening to how it takes us from here


to wherever there is. I want to take your hand,

you want to give it to me, and the silence lets

this taking and giving seem like such good fortune,

although the path is too narrow for us to walk

beside each other, so we take turns leading ourselves

to another silence we might understand.


Philip Vassallo’s poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in many publications, and his plays have been produced throughout the United States. He is the author of The Art of On-the-Job Writing, The Art of Email Writing, and How to Write Fast Under Pressure. Philip writes the blog, WORDS ON THE LINE, from Parlin, New Jersey.