The silent “b” has always confounded me.
You do not hear it in words like doubt and subtle,
nor in comb or tomb,
(whose “o”s are pronounced so differently).
It’s because of history,
And I understand
there are
good reasons.

I cannot reconcile my anger though
at how the silent “b” softens this word—
Say it: “Bomb”.
It shouldn’t be a soft word.
When it falls from your mouth it should
cut through the air.
It needs to sound more congruent
with its sense.

Now say this word:
It’s a warm and soft word. A grounded word. A rounded word.
The “b” closes it off
with a silent kiss.
It’s perfect.

Just one letter different,
bomb and womb.
How can it be,
that two words
so similar in appearance
diverge so in meaning?
One conveys safety;
the other, its absence.

A womb, perhaps the greatest refuge on Earth,
is shelter, nourishment, love, all wrapped up in one.
A womb cradles the irreplaceable, beautiful, and sacred.
A bomb lays it to waste.

And I don’t understand
what others call
good reasons.


Carolyn Affleck Youngs
November 11, 2023

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