The Resonance of No


 The Resonance of No

Yes, yes, we’ve heard. The dishwasher wastes less
and cleans better. But Kenk­ō believed in the beauty
of leisure, and how better to make nothing
while standing with hands in soapy water, thoughts
skipping from Miles Davis’s languid notes to the spider
ascending to safe shelter under the sill (after I blow
on her to amuse myself), washing my favorite knife
and wondering if I should hone it, not to mention
my skills on the six-string or the potato peeler.
And if I linger at the plates, even the chipped one,
admiring their gleam after hot water rinses away
the soap residue, who could question the quick gulp
of ale or the shuffle of an almost-but-not-quite
dance step-or-stumble while arranging them on the
ribbed rack, back-to-back, in time to Coltrane’s
solo. Then the forgotten food processor’s blade
bites my palm, and I remember that I’ve outgrown
the dark suit, the cut branches still need bundling
and none of the words I’ve conjured and shaped
over decades and miles will extend their comfort
when I stand at my father’s grave this week or next.

“The Resonance of No,” was published in December 2016 in Gravel, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

Daniel Schnee wrote about this poem here.

Music Credit: Cool Vibes Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

26 thoughts on “The Resonance of No

  1. How ironic! I had just finished reading “The Resonance of No” in your book From Every Moment a Second when I happened upon your post by the same name…which was, of course, the same poem.

    For me, it is with hand washing the dishes as it has always been with weeding the garden, snowshoeing across open fields, cycling down country roads, and long ago, endless hours spent in ballet lessons — a time for undirected reflection. The rhythm of the task takes my thoughts in one direction, then pirouettes in another. I stretch my mind; I contemplate new thoughts; I rest; I breath; I become myself again.

    Kendo was correct, I believe. There is beauty in leisure.

    I loved this poem! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this so much. And also Schnee’s reading of it, or rather sounding it out. I hadn’t picked up on the phonography of the poem as I was reading it, the images played too loudly. But I think there was an undercurrent of streaming water throughout, even the way the images slipped randomly as if from one stone to another. The poem definitely resonated with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Deborah. I’m so pleased that it resonated, and that you found Daniel Schnee’s “sounding” of it interesting. We write these things and send them out into the world with hopes that someone, somewhere will read them and perhaps, if we’re fortunate, “get” them. I’ve been lucky with this one!

      Liked by 1 person

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