CAESURA by Paul Hostovsky

Every time he read or wrote
or heard or spoke the word
suffering, he paused. It wasn’t
the solemn way some people pause
to give thanks before a meal,
nor the sudden mid-sentence pause after the name
of someone you loved so much you lose
your breath every time—
Nor was it the ceremonious
moment of silence
sitting on all the bowed heads in a room,
nor the silence that fills a room when a room
empties, the door snapping to.
It was more like a smelling, a listening
for the aftertaste of something in the mouth, something
not in the mouth anymore but
in the body now. In the pause,
he would listen the way you listen
at the mouth of a well
for a dropped stone,
waiting for it to tell you something.

–Paul Hostovsky