By Joshua Borgmann

A silence thickens into a wall of stone.
I’ve slept in late and written my days with fear
in an empty house and gone to bed alone.

For hours, I’ve sat and stared at a silent phone
and played the music loud to keep from hearing
the silence thicken into a wall of stone.

I’ve hidden my eyes and spoken with a broken tone
and sat for hours at a table sipping beer
in an empty house and gone to bed alone
as my silence thickened into a wall of stone.

Now, I hear a note breaking through the drone
and see a smile I’ve missed from spending years
in an empty house and going to bed alone.

I hear my lover speaking to me on the phone
and a poem can sweep away the sinking fear:
a silence thickened into a wall of stone
in an empty house where I go to bed alone.

(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Joshua Borgmann teaches English at Southwestern Community College in Creston, IA. He holds degrees from Drake University, Iowa State University, and the University of South Carolina. He has had poetry published in Rattle, Flyway, Prairie Poetry, The Blue Collar Review, and others; however, in recent years, he has been a bit distracted from his writing by his job as community college English teacher and he and his wife’s struggles to adopt a child through the foster care system. He continues to make occasional appearances at the Des Moines Poetry Slam, trying to regain his youthful veal, and hopes to write and read more in the coming year. He has an unhealthy fascination with science-fiction, horror, fantasy, and graphic novels; listens to unpopular forms of music such as heavy-metal and opera; and spends too much time looking at cat memes on Facebook. He resides in Creston, IA with his wife and three cats.

Editor’s Note: In today’s piece Joshua Borgmann is working in a form that recalls both pantoum and terza rima. The rhyme and repetition work together to echo the sentiment of the subject matter. Loneliness and desperation pervade as we move over and over with the poet throughout the slow progress of his time lived alone, in fear, facing isolation as a wall of stone. In the end, the repetition and rhyme turn the narrative on its head as we—alongside the poet—are freed from our suffering by the arrival of love. But loneliness past continues to haunt the poem’s resolution; even when love finally arrives, the poet has to work to combat his old fear of “a silence thickened into a wall of stone / in an empty house where I go to bed alone.”

Want to read more by and about Joshua Borgmann?
“Peonies and Dust” in Prairie Poetry
“Forgetting 87” in knotgrass
“Dead Again Kenny” in The Diagram

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