Come Silence

By Mark Belair

The caption said the dead man
had been trampled in a crowd.

One boot was gone
and his long-sleeve checkered shirt was torn.

Had he worn his boots and long-sleeve shirt
in case it might turn cold?

Or had he felt, that morning,
rain coming on?


The oxygen machine pumped
as it had for months

until his daughter, who an hour before
helped him bear dying—

It’s all right to let go, she whispered, crying,
You’ve done your job

heard it working and—its duty done—
snapped it off.

Then a hard silence
fell, one

that widened
the one her father,

still in bed,
already inhabited.


Being here, alone
with the rain

tapping the roof shingles
and streaking the windowpanes

despite your death,
I remember

you once said

was what
you believed in.



Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit

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