by Jack Henslee

  She approached with hesitation and uncertainty.
  Still attractive at 73, despite the ravish of cancer
  That had unmercifully destroyed her speech.
  Her eyes reflected the fear and despair
  Born from the pain of silence, darkened by sadness,
  Quietly pleading for encouragement and hope.
  Like most survivors she had many fears,
  But most of all she wanted to talk.

  Pen and paper were kept in hand, a substitute for speech.
  In her purse, an electric device that simulated voice,
  A lingering source of embarrassment
  That constantly reminded her of the loss.
  She joined the others that had preceded her
  As she silently moved from the solitary darkness.
  The long journey to self esteem had begun,
  But most of all she wanted to talk.

The assault on silence began
 With that mechanical voice she so despised.
  Alien sounds tumbled precariously from her mouth,
  Until the words started to slowly flow,
  But the loneliness of silence had bred a deep depression.
  With trembling lips and tear filled eyes
  This newly acquired voice declared,
  “I can speak, but most of all I want to talk.”

  Her lips drew taut, with a quivering tremble,
  As her chosen quest was explained step by step.
  The discipline to succeed, and the disappointments
  That rage in dark fury were examined.
  Her jaw drooped slightly from the weight of doubt,
  But her eyes darkened with determination when she declared,
  “I can do it, I know I can,
  Because most of all I want to talk.”

  The quest began with a search for sound,
  A simple Ah would be music, a word a symphony.
  Scotch was repeatedly whispered until finally spoken,
  Next came “Cup Cake”, two words strung together
  In a beautifully raspy voice, clearly understood.
  She repeated, Cup Cake, Cup Cake, over and over,
  Until her eyes filled with pride and joy.
  Because most of all, now she could talk.