Simon Perchik, Before there was silence

Before there was silence

Though it no longer speaks
this pebble is still thirsty
must know it will be brought back

as a lake and on the surface
a night where there was none before
– you are always listening for black

a coat, the shadow a mourner lets go
as if there’s no other way to drink
except from a hand left open

lifting this hillside to your lips
where underground streams are returned
as fingertips, salt and in silence.


The roof has nothing to add
though its shingles wobble
changing shapes and places

slide one under the other
while you make the ascent
step by step reeking from lava

and sweat where your arms
unfold as something wet
that has no corners to close

is learning to fly in the attic
the way rain makes its descent
with nothing left for ashes.


You can hear the dust and grieving
– it’s a warm rag, torn off
while still a sleeve – even here

is reaching out as the nearness
this table found for a chair already frail
from waiting where two should be

– you sift the earth for her
and all these years with the same dress
slowly gathering your fingers

as a heaviness that is not a sky
pressing them against the dead wood
the way every spell is handed

with a wave side to side
then the wind that covers her
to share a long, long love.


It’s the waiting though your eyes
never expected the doctor to look in back
tell you the sun was still there

helping you remember
when stars too are powerless
adrift the way each eyelid

becomes a wing, already water soaked
too heavy to fly – even now a butterfly
is swallowing them drop by drop

for their darkness – it’s coming
so let it come from how it held your arms
before there was silence.


Each step by step holding these graves in place
bends at the knee before they harden
as if a crust helps silence understand

the way this spider pulls its legs in
and huddles, becomes a pebble
by waiting till some mourner comes by

– it’s an afternoon yard where your fingers
feed on her warm lips side to side
disguised as lettering and time

that no longer moves in pieces
with you on your stomach, arms folded
breathing into the earth

as if its slow climbing turn would end
mid-air, mistaken for sunlight
unwilling to return alone.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poems, published by boxofchalk in 2017. To view one of his interviews, click here.

For more information, including access to free e-books and Simon’s essay, ‘Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,’ please visit his website.

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