Jim Zola ~ The Silence

When a tree falls,
a snowy owl rents the silence;
the moon reflecting white
on the blade of a knife
that slices off a banker’s thumb

in Buenos Aires.
His scream falls on ears
that prefer to hear other things.
Starlings carry silence
through tangled catalpa branch.

The thumb finds a bed
in a velvet cigar box
in the Cleveland den
of a middle-age salesman,
scoping gloomily online

for such odd finds.
He brags and shows off
to Miss Sarah Deakins,
a second-grade teacher
who swears her heart

almost stops as he unveils
the shriveled digit and reads
from a mimeographed sheet
that arrived, UPS,
with the thumb.

Later, all she can think of
as she slips into bed,
is the way the box
still carried the odor
of tobacco. She remembers

summers at Gramma K’s
in Kernersville,
where she first tasted
the hot stream
from a cow’s teat,

first felt the spin
from a cigarette laced
with jimson weed,
first kissed the stink
from a drunken boy’s chest

as he pushed into her
again and again,
muffling her cry
with a hand that smelled
like silence.


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook — The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection — What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC

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