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By Tess Gallagher

Heartbeat trembling

your kingdom

of leaves

near the ceremony

of water, I never

insisted on you. I admit

I delayed. I was the Empress

of Delay. But it can’t be

put off now. On the sacred branch

of my only voice – I insist.

Insist for us all,

which is the job

of the voice, and especially

of the poet. Else

what am I for, what use

am I if I don’t


There are messages to send.

Gatherings and songs.

Because we need

to insist. Else what are we

for? What use

are we?

Tess Gallagher, “Refusing Silence” from Amplitude: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1987 by Tess Gallagher. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press,

Source: Amplitude: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1987)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living

Poet Bio

Tess Gallagher
Poet, essayist, and short story writer Tess Gallagher was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington, to a logging family. She is also a screenplay writer, editor, literary executor, and translator. She lives and writes in Port Angeles, Washington. See More By This Poet

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