Highly Commended -Module 3: The Use of Silence by Sam McBeath
Trigger Warning: This content contains inferences about miscarriage, which may be distressing for individuals who have experienced or are sensitive to this topic. Reader discretion is advised.
in my silence, Helen unfolds her life – a religious
homemaker, enduring fading vigour, a well-worn
liver and the petulance of a selfish husband,
i master the pauses, coaxing more from the ether.
i count one mississippi, slowly, like molasses rolling off a teaspoon
allowing her thoughts to gather, assuring my presence and expertise.
at 8 minutes 40, she breaks my measured silence:
“i’m a bad person, that’s why those babies left me.”
the pause, now my master, wrings me like a sodden rag – a novice
jolted from playtime to reflect on my inability
to bear the burden, despite long hours in the library,
still too green to sit in the shit.
All Rights. Sam McBeath.