Allene Rasmussen Nichols

Silence is not an Option

(For Alexandr Solzhenitsyn)

Your words sliced like jagged ice
from East to West
through cold war temperatures
and government denial

of your gulag.
I remember your voice like drops
of water in monotone on my face
with the sound of distant whips,
and no hope of salvation.

At fourteen, I shrank
from your steel sharpened words
but returned again and again
to the blows and bruises

until I fled
into the cool Illinois afternoon
breathing deliberately
because I could breathe.

The shroud that clung to me
like a spider web
glistening with agonized

still clings.


Allene Rasmussen Nichols lives in Arlington, Texas, where she teaches English at Gateway School. Her poems have been published /Philament/, /Ariel/, /Sylvan Echo/ and other journals and the anthology _Dance the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa_. Her plays have been produced in California, Dallas, and New York.

(author retains copyright)