My Mother Spoke Only in Sighs
She'd grown tired of words. Words cause pain, she'd warned us before. Breath became her language. We weren't ones to question; she'd taught us about the vitality of air, how it gave us life.
We adapted, and learned how to communicate with her. When she wanted to be alone, a tiny puff of air shot from her hollow mouth—and we knew to scatter. When she was tired, the air pulled out slow, stretched and leaned like diluted milk.
We reminded the townspeople she was not mute. She spoke in breaths not because of our brother. It began long before she watched his limbs shrink, before the medicine drained his lungs of air and death shrieked its silent welcome.
The most famous sigh came during a prayer at his funeral. The priest described the sound as guttural. I heard the primal roar of a mother as she shushed the doctor's truths. A voiceless wail as she hushed the beckoning of the spirits, signaling her child to come home.
Susan holds an MA in Education and an MFA from Hamline University, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has been published in various print and online journals. She lives in St. Paul with her family and never enough animals. You can find her on Twitter at @SusanTriemert