Today's poem is by Pamela Harrison

Winter's Tale

Until today, I never got the logic
of Shakespeare's chilly comedy, why
Hermione stayed all those years away
while time played out the siege of her love's heart.
Now I'm told my mother made my father pay
nine years of penance, sharing a sterile bed. How did they
bear lying between the sheets, side by side each night
under the cold blanket of the other's breathing?

How disciplined they were
before us, never a cross word,
upholding the mindful gloss of courtesy,
nothing alarming, nothing true,
allowing our ignorant, adolescent lives
to billow out of the confines of that starving house.
Such kindness, utterly adult,
never to halve our hearts by telling tales.

That last bad year, I'd call home from college,
catching her in her alcoholic blur, tongue so thickened,
speech so slurred, I hung up without speaking, never dared
to name the suicide she'd begun to live.
Cold at heart and letting the silence grow,
I abandoned them.
My brother did the work: Dad wept to tell him
how ruined he was, and why.

It was my brother, her beloved, who talked her back,
refusing her further refusals, coaxing her to speak.
Weighing out the grains of weeks and months and years,
while I wrote essays on The Winter's Tale,
my brother forged words and lay them one by one
against the locked vault of her grief until, at last, it gave.
Leontes chastened. Perdita found. Hermione restored.
Oh, the truth is always larger than the story told.

I have only my part recounted.
Forgive my need to speak at all.
I am the lost child, found; the lost child, loved,
however lost she felt she was.

Copyright © 2009 Pamela Harrison All rights reserved
from Out of Silence
David Robert Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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