Back then, we understood what words were worth.
My sister and I, in our shared bed,
wrote silent messages to each other as evening
deepened to night.
My fingers spelled magic into the soft creases of her palm,
and she, eyes closed, let it form
beneath her eyelids – letters connected by touch, the circle
of O, the almost square of E.
I watched her concentrate until the word emerged
from skin one letter at a time,
was mouthed into existence – horse, dollhouse, grass, pillow –
soft words that blanketed
the sharp, angled syllables of our parents arguing downstairs.
My sister held my hand open
and conjured cake, river, let the letters take the weight
of not knowing by becoming known
behind the curtain of our childhood – plate, feather, window.
It seemed simple,
not speaking, trusting the hands that made speaking
unnecessary. Or maybe
we were careful – what words we shared, what we asked
each other to hold.
We knew the value of silence. Once spoken, words
could cost everything.
Sandy Coomer is a poet, artist, Ironman athlete, and social entrepreneur from Nashville, TN. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a full-length collection, Available Light (Iris Press). Sandy is a poetry mentor in the AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program and the founding editor of the online poetry journal Rockvale Review. She is the founder and director of Rockvale Writers’ Colony in College Grove, TN, a not-for-profit organization that exists to support, promote, and educate writers of all genres and backgrounds. Her favorite word is “believe.”