Natasha Trethewey

Shooting Wild

At the theater I learn shooting wild,
a movie term that means filming a scene
without sound, and I think of being a child
watching my mother, how quiet she’d been,

soundless in our house made silent by fear.
At first her gestures were hard to understand,
and her hush when my stepfather was near.
Then one morning, the imprint of his hand

dark on her face, I learned to watch her more:
the way her grip tightened on a fork, night
after night; how a glance held me, the door—
a sign that made the need to hear so slight

I can’t recall her voice since she’s been dead:
no sound of her, no words she might have said.