Silence Doesn’t Have Even a Hint by George Looney

It’s that particular lack of sound
that makes you feel
so alone you want to be
able to deny everything
you believe and just start a conversation
with a friend dead more
than a year. You can’t say what he would
think of loneliness
by now. The sump pump kicks on
for seconds and then
shuts down. The silence doesn’t
have even a hint
of moisture. It’s been raining for days
and the house sparrows
have that look of defiance
of everything that lets them continue
singing even when all they can do
is hop around,
their wings drenched. With such music
I want to believe it is
possible even the dead could manage
a decent semblance of
a rumba, or maybe a foxtrot. I want to
believe the sparrows
have in mind something more akin to
a waltz, their trills
almost in three-quarter time. Nothing is
that precise, though,
and the dead nod in the way only the dead can
nod and, with a grace
they never had alive, they do whatever dance
they want, humming
as best they can the buzzes and chip notes
and trills the sparrows
present as an argument against how the rain
just keeps on coming down.
George Looney is the author of fifteen collections of poetry and fiction, most recently The Worst May Be Over (stories) and The Itinerate Circus: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020. He founded the BFA Program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, where he is Distinguished Professor and serves as Editor of the literary journal Lake Effect and Translation Editor of Mid-American Review. He was co-founder of the original Chautauqua Writers’ Festival.