France, 1941

by Heidi Williamson

My mouth will not open for the soldier
seated in my father’s chair. He knows now

and inclines his head in polite salute,
indifferent as a cat. I will my bones

not to react, reflect; as the impulse travels
through my senses I quash it. I am skilled

in the texture of silence. But at night
he eases Chopin into the air, lets

the quiet in the music carry. He taps
his pipe and cocks his head to listen.

In the stillness of my room
I hold my breath. All the meaning

I will not give forms in the air
like lengthened notes, a gift.