Wake

by Carol Devaughn

It’s the chair she always sits in,
at the back, just under the skylight.
Here, she can keep her head down,
read and not read,
let the words ripple on the page,
swim if they want to.
Today, without reason, she looks up,
sees a tableau of silence:
three women standing utterly still,
staring into space.
They seem unknown to each other
yet somehow together,
silently keening a loss
that has left the heart stammering.
Their mouths are slightly open,
like hers,
as if sharing the same breath.
Behind the silence
she hears rumbling,
sees the shelves heaving,
books falling,
tumbling towards her,
piling up like rubble,
babbling.
They fly open, breaking
their spines to free the words,
which turn into a mass
of blackbirds shattering
the skylight, lifting her weight
into the evening air.