The Greenville Poets

By Deanna Pickard
What the Young Wife Heard

It is not her husband's voice she hears
but his father's, a sudden agitation
in tone like swoops of crows
dropping on fields. She watches

as the scene appears—dinner
plates sit in silence, the guests arranged
around the carving of a turkey.
His mother's fresh-turned potatoes

whipped into nervous peaks.
At the head of the table,
a missing spoon at his father's place.
Again the old woman mistakenly

hands him another fork. No one notices
until the fork clangs on the kitchen floor.
All of us bow our heads to our plates
as if we are saying grace. And why


shouldn't a son love his father?
A father who read Huck Finn to him,
quoted Casey at the Bat from his orphan past,
or tucked him under his arm

like a book. The sort of man
who always wore his suit to town.
Now he's gone. All that's remembered
is how he hummed as he mended birdwings,

or grated fiery horseradish roots
by the shed, eyes tearing. And
this last son couldn't understand why
some mornings he woke in his closet,

or why once he imagined his father
hanging in the barn like a deer.
Too small for his chair, he watched
bitter coffee perking, the commotion

of steam against lid. Even then
he knew he should never break the silence.