March 1, 2009


After I read it —
"killed in action" —
and handed it back,
the whole damned English language
just flew away in the air
like a flock of blackbirds.

For a long time
neither one of us moved.
The daily sounds of the world
went on, sparrows in the barn lot,
somebody's bull way off,
the wind in the eaves,
but around us was
this awful, awful silence
that didn't have one word in it.

— Wendell Berry, "Stand By Me"
(Atlantic Fiction Issue 2008)

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