Around the table, she blinks her response
to our questions and listens to the noise
the rest of us make, nodding her head
until someone forgets and pauses halfway
through the story: Tell us what happened next.
Through the window, this year's tobacco
is just visible behind the barn.
The room is bright and everything silent,
even the break of the crop's stalks in the wind.
Someone else picks up where the last
left off, and another interrupts to tell it
better, the afternoon losing itself to rain
that has just set in. She turns away
from us to face the windows, my uncle
visible beneath the thunder as he collects
damaged leaves. When she thinks no one
is watching, her hands rise to the neck
and I see her fingers trace the throat,
the outline where the voice once belonged.
-- Kerri French