Where to Put It

The room in which I start sobbing again and wonder

if my sobs will hurt the baby inside me, and the room

in which I hope so, a room made entirely of a window.

                                    The room of my husband’s goodnight,

which is a room in a large municipal building with Styrofoam ceilings

where lines must be formed so forms can be signed, a room

surrounded by parking lots, and he knocks opening its door

and says, You can’t be this sad for the next five months—it’s not tenable.

                                    The room overlooking the perfectly circular hole

in our street that’s at least ten feet deep and no neighbor

knows when it appeared or if there’s a reason.

                                    The room in which instead of eating dinner

I drive for hours past porches where women with voices

like hammered fenders call out baseball scores

into the peeled blue air that will not link itself to a season. 

                                    The room in which a man the color of sand

stands on a median toward the end of dusk with a sign saying

he has children and will do anything

and the room of the cars before lights turn green.

                                    The room in which we are filled with longing

like a wave too large. Do you see me is what we can’t

find words to ask.                                

                                    The room in which a new student shows up

for my poetry class for formerly homeless people who are mentally ill

and she has my mother’s smile.

                                    The room in which so many women

have my mother’s smile: women entering restaurants, women

standing at counters with handfuls of change.

                                    The room of the dream in which the baby

is my mother and I am the vent between steam and the street.

                                    The room in which I tell my father,

I miss Mom so much I can’t think about her and the room in which

he answers back, Me too, lit as it is by the end of dusk and the cars

passing through when the stoplights turn; now the man’s sign drops, I’ll

do anything.

                                    The room in which my father is living

with a woman younger than I am and the room in which he is my father

and the corridor between them down which no one walks, and Do you see me,

Yes I see you, and Do you see me, No I’m lonely,

                                    and the room of my seventy-year-old father

and his seventy-year-old friends pretending to trip each other and laughing,

and the room in which they’re invisible, age like the white ceiling

and white walls, the window dissolved to a water-shaped memory of touch.

                                    The room in which I ask the no-longer-homeless woman

what the poem about kindness is about and she says it’s about anger,

says this with my mother’s smile, the smile of my mother’s illness

that could have decimated grown men in agreement with each other, and did.

                                    The room in which the woman’s smile

becomes an ordinary moth that lifts off the table and slips through a hole

in the star-cracked slats of the ceiling’s foam—Are we sharing a space,

do you see me.

                                    The room of the water-shaped tenable.

The room in the house, the lit room upstairs, books on the shelves

by the window, the room we drive by in the nighttime, someone inside.


Taije Silverman’s recent poems have been in the 2016 and 2017 editions of Best American Poetry, the 2017 Pushcart Prize anthology, Ploughshares, the Sewanee Review, and the Southern Review. Her first book, Houses Are Fields (2009), was published by Louisiana State University Press, and her translations of the Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli will be out from Princeton University Press in 2019.