Look, the Silence poems by Barbara Germiat

picture of Barbara Germiat
Photograph by Life Touch  

The beautifully delicate poems in Barbara Germiat’s Look, the Silence are informed by a deftly conveyed sense of loss, but they also contain moments of delicious wit and sudden, unexpected illuminations of joyful light. They make us look more closely. About the book, Laurel Mills has written, “The speaker of the poems in Barbara Germiat’s Look, the Silence finds security in silence.  As a child she ‘sat under the piano while / the grownups talked about the war.’  Her silence results in, and springs from, strained family relationships, especially with her mother and later with her own children.  Most moving is the way she is struck ‘nearly mute’ by her son’s suicide.  She observes that even nature is often quiet: ‘flowers fade and set their seed,’ ‘snow floats down’ outside the sun room window, and ‘evening blushes farewell, indifferent to human longing.’  As readers, we’re glad that the poet broke her silence to gift us with these poems.” And this from Bruce Dethlefsen: “Barbara Germiat’s first book of poems, Look, the Silence, is ripe with carefully crafted, image-rich, and tender memories of farm life in Wisconsin.  She remembers the ‘much loved 1930s Philco console’ and how the ‘sunset falls into sky dark / enough that stars may bloom.’ ”   
  look the silence cover image
  Photograph by Sharon Auberle

Barbara Germiat spent her childhood on a dairy farm in southeastern Wisconsin, with a much older brother and lots of cows, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats, but no daily playmates.  She learned to amuse herself. Reading was a large part of her amusement.  Jo March, the “scribbler” of Little Women fascinated her, and after becoming both wife and mother, she began work as a stringer for a local newspaper.  When she and her family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, she worked in the public information office of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley. It was then that she began studying and writing poetry. Twenty years of writing newsletters for organizations taught her how to condense, a useful skill for a poet. This is her first book of poetry.

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ISBN 978-1-943826-26-1

First Edition 2017

5.5" x 8.5" paperback, 40 pages



Copyright © 2017 by Barbara Germiat



I could comb Roget’s Thesaurus,
search the edges of my memory,
hunt for words to tell you how this snowfall
honeycombs the dome in which we breathe,
saturates the air with quiet crystals,
muffles customary noises.

Or I could whisper
the silence.

The Silent Woman

The silent woman. The uncomplaining,
unexpressed, uninflected woman.
        – from Kent Haruf’s novel Benediction


Such security there is in silence.
No need to think,
no need to risk,
no need to put oneself out there.

I feel safe inside my silence.
People ignore me I think.
Long ago I trained myself
not to feel, not to want too much,
to overlook myself.

As a child I sat under the piano while
the grownups talked about the war.
I wished they’d stop, but never said so.

My husband’s aunt told me to say something
but I had nothing to say to this noisy family.

My friend called me almost mute

when we talked about my son’s suicide.


Golden Giants


Giant goldfish swimming
in Harold’s stock tank
entranced me, a little girl
who knew nothing but the farm.

Now I call them koi,
but that doesn’t make them
any less wonderful,
teasing the cows’ tongues.

On our farm, whimsy was subtle,
like yellow sugar on white frosting.
Work was hard, play was rare,
but golden giants swam next door.



We, Left Behind


My oldest son, 16, has shot himself
with no warning. He left behind a note
scribbled in pencil on a green note card,
asked Tom to explain the situation
and return Jay’s borrowed fishing tackle.
He left behind his favorite apple pie,
half-eaten, and a case of beer, half-drunk,
hidden underneath his bed, as kids do.
He left behind his stricken family.
Who will sit on his side of the table?
We four left behind cannot sit and stare

at his empty chair. I set a plate there.


Chicory Days


When chicory’s blue blossoms
drift across roadsides dusted
with Queen Anne’s Lace,
summer’s second half opens.

Carefree days turn blue.
Season advances as surely
as evening blushes farewell,
indifferent to human longing

for ongoing sunshine, ongoing
summer of daisies and roses
petunias and pansies.
Flowers fade and set their seed.

Sunset falls into sky dark
enough that stars may bloom.