In those days,
The people didn’t speak.
They would shake hands
And then go about their day
Nodding and listening.
The only sound was their feet,
And the wind,
And they were lonely and happy.
There were few people then,
And they elected the president
By choosing from among those
Who refused the post.
The president did not do much,
Only once every year, they would
Say something, one thing,
And the people would think about this,
As they walked and worked and listened.
One year, they were all tired
Of the quiet, because even the trees
Said very little, and they decided
To begin speaking again.
They weren’t lonely now,
And the wind and trees still stayed,
Despite gloomy prophets foretelling
That speech would pollute the air,
Burn the forests.
And they gathered in the square loudly,
For the president had something to say,
Though now, so did everyone.
“You’ve lost something beautiful,”
The president said, but no one heard, for
Everyone was so unused to their voices
That they shouted their whispers.
“What’s that?” one said.
“Why, they said our voices are beautiful,” said one.
“And so they are,” echoed the rest.
—from Poets Respond
March 12, 2019
Hannah V. Norman: “This isn’t really in response to a particular event, but was prompted by the title of an article: ‘The President Who Doesn’t Speak.’ I think, in many ways, today’s society is full of extremes, both positive and negative ones, so I find it interesting to write about them in a somewhat mythical, historical way, creating a story about how we got to where we are today.”