The Finish to a Sentence not Started | Adie Smith Kleckner

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2 mins read

After Mary Szybist

Echo who always answered among rocks, spilled

In cairns, in ice caves. I did not 

Leave you. Even now I can’t keep from
Listening for you, murmurs & open lips &

Sighs of agreement. I only dream

Of your lilting voice. I say there is no Echo
Except the voice repeating echo, no curse

On the tip of your tongue. I only 

Ask for an answer to the question, are you
There? There, there, you say. 

Your words like trapped bees
Between us. Cursed nymph,

The silence continues and here are the figs I have
Brought for you, here the ivy to veil

Your face. Echo, what mother is so weighed

Down by words she turns to stones?
It is sound that lives in you between a rock and a hard
Place only a voice. Here I am

Having bathed carefully in silence, rubbed my skin
In oil so even it doesn’t speak. My feet tread softly.  Yet

Still you only repeat. You are a only a vessel

For other’s words. I hear you in

The empty hall as I bend to button my child’s coat, in the shrouded cave, even in the open
Spaces yawning like a mouth. Tell me what I want

To hear: daughter, I am proud, proud, proud.


Adie Smith Kleckner lives in Washington with her husband, daughter, and dog. She teaches English at Pierce College and earned an MFA in poetry from Seattle Pacific University. Her work has appeared in Cutthroat, Rhino, Ruminate, and elsewhere.

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