Between Murmurs

By A. Carter


Have you listened to the murmurs?

how the turn of a half smile 

changes the way syllables are pronounced

the soft click of tongue 

as they press air between teeth 

and vibrations between vocal cords 

strumming them softly 

so that the listener’s ears are only faintly attentive. 


Some phantoms sound like a dull wind 

against aspen trees

which if you’ve heard

are much like wooden wind chimes 

on a cold winter day. 


Others are like water running

over black obsidian glass stones, 

or the sun hitting citrine

reflecting golden light. 


Some voices are incapable of whispering,

Some were forced into silence.

And in turn felt the need to shout into oblivion 

In a desperate attempt to be heard

they sound like scraping metal

against an old cracked concrete floor, 

or an angry fist grasping a graphite pencil,


Until it snaps.


The world was always full of murmurs, 



reaching for connection within boundaries. 

But what happens 

when the world ceases to acknowledge true sound? 

When the voices are silenced 

to make way for a deafening illness?


Where did my own whisper go? 

Is it caught between the aspen trees 

or tantalized laying on old concrete floors?

Will it shout into oblivion 

or become obsidian melodies?

I’ve stopped and listened to every whisper,

and yet my own has yet to emerge

  from between the murmurs.