Click on the play icon below to hear Garrison Keillor recite the poem Talking to Ourselves by Philip Schultz:
Talking to Ourselves"Talking to Ourselves" by Philip Schultz, from Failure. © Harcourt, 2007.
by Philip Schultz
A woman in my doctor's office last week
couldn't stop talking about Niagara Falls,
the difference between dog and deer ticks,
how her oldest boy, killed in Iraq, would lie
with her at night in the summer grass, singing
Puccini. Her eyes looked at me but saw only
the saffron swirls of the quivering heavens.
Yesterday, Mr. Miller, our tidy neighbor,
stopped under our lopsided maple to explain
how his wife of sixty years died last month
of Alzheimer's. I stood there, listening to
his longing reach across the darkness with
each bruised breath of his eloquent singing.
This morning my five-year-old asked himself
why he'd come into the kitchen. I understood
he was thinking out loud, personifying himself,
but the intimacy of his small voice was surprising.
When my father's vending business was failing,
he'd talk to himself while driving, his lips
silently moving, his black eyes deliquescent.
He didn't care that I was there, listening,
what he was saying was too important.
"Too important," I hear myself saying
in the kitchen, putting the dishes away,
and my wife looks up from her reading
and asks, "What's that you said?"
From Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac for 18 January 2010
Photos from Onexposure (1x.com). Top: Silence is – by ambra. Bottom: 7 – by ZKP