Kerry Muir πŸ”ˆ

In the Silence

Ekphrastic poem from Wounded Eurydice, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Art Institute of Chicago

In the silence
the blessed silence

In the warm
pocket of silence
that enfolds me now

In the silence that is of time
and yet somehow
outside it

In the silence
of the garden
by the old shed
where the bees buzz amongst
the rosemary,
prickly and fragrant

In the silence from the hustle and bustle
In the silence from the rough and tumble
In the silence from the daily,
assault on the senses

In the silence from the lunacy
that is
not silence

I lay my head down

down among the ants
down among the pebbles
down among the stray dirt
kicked up
by the dog

down goes my cheek
down goes my ear
to listen
to the silence
that lies below the ground

And I give up

Give up holding
for a customer service representative
Give up finding
receipts to report to taxes
Give up worrying
about whether the pets will outlive me
or not

And if they outlive me then
where will they go and
will they be orphans and
will they miss me so much?

Who will know
to add Chinese herbs to the black cat’s food?

Who will know
how to crush up her tablets
and mix them into her Purina ProPlan
just so?

Who will know
she only eats Purina ProPlan?

Who will know
how to purchase her Nattokinase
from iHerb in bulk?

Who will know
she must take Nattokinase
six times a day
for her heart?

Who will know
the dog needs both MSM
and glucosamine chondroitin?

Who will know
to mash up the dog’s food
because she only has four teeth
and cannot chew
so good?

Who will know
the white cat abhors the cold?

Who will know
she likes the old yellow sweater
pulled over her at night?

Who will know
all these things,
I worry constantly?

And yet for now

I give up

I give up
filling out financial aid forms
I give up
worrying about my offspring
I give up
worrying that mom will sell the house
and then god knows
where i will go

(maybe Mexico)

I give up worrying
if there’s life after death
there is

(if anything teaches you that
it’s the silence)

I give up having a personality

Give up trying to eat enough vegetables

I renounce
brushing and flossing
I renounce
the march of time
I renounce
my auto-immune disease
and its attendant skin condition

I renounce
worrying if
I’m a good teacher or not

sometimes I am
sometimes not so much
it’s uneven
I’m an uneven teacher

I renounce hating Republicans
I renounce all petty grudges
I renounce the bitchy comeback
and the pithy, stinging witticism

I renounce getting it all figured out before dawn

I renounce
making sense
of the troublesome-mysterious

such as why,
when an old boyfriend calls
after so many years,

I light up like a teenager

Here in the silence
of the garden
by the old shed
where the bees buzz amongst
prickly and

Audio Recording

Read by actor and director Victoria Mack.

About the Author

Kerry Muir’s work has appeared in Kenyon Review online, The Pinch, Crazyhorse, Riverteeth, and elsewhere; new work is forthcoming in the Spring and Summer 2022 issues of Hunger Mountain Review, Qu Literary Magazine, and New Plains Review. Kerry also writes plays and makes short films. Visit her online at