Jill Chan

from Silence


I keep notebooks
in two parts of the house.
In case I need
to reach for something
that is not mine,
something to make
into everything,
to bring close
and take home.
I turn to the person
I am, on a day
like this,
and content
with night.
And silence
is not a thing,
not an object.
It is here.


This is not silence,
Every life speaks,
needs to.
Two silences
make words
that speech do not.
Two silences
make not
a death
but a life
a panorama of broken


There’s meaning
in the sky,
in the grey turnings
of life.
I drink warm
water to soothe
my coughs.
I think.
The facts of living
come suddenly
in a rush,
in bony silence.
What searching,
what arresting way
the ways time stops.
Silence is not a stop.
It is a start
to something,
something new,
something that marks
the place.

Jill Chan is the author of eight collections, the latest of which is the poetry book What To Believe (2017). Her work has been published in Otoliths, Poetry New Zealand, Takahe, JAAM, Snorkel, Deep South, Trout, Blue Fifth Review, Eunoia Review, Tower Journal, and many other magazines.
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