“I raise my chin and say nothing.”

ChmielarzThis is the final line in the poem “When Are You Coming Back? I’m Getting Tired of Waiting” from a collection of poems about grieving titled The Widow’s House by Sharon Chmielarz.  It is one example of how the poet has achieved a “mastery of tone.” Tone is a slippery thing to describe, much less master.  Chmielarz does it by giving a clear description (in this case, of the lift of the right eyebrow), adding dialogue (with a strident grief counselor) and humor (“As if you have things to do now…”), and then stopping at precisely the right moment.

Sharon Chmielarz, The Widow’s House (Omaha, Brighthorse Books, 2015), 23.

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