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Never Heard Back

For you, I sing the same songs and read the same obit.

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday, poetry
August 23, 2022

“Why do I turn my head so piously to the sky?”

—Wendy Xu

Tomorrow they won’t know an emptying body from a ceremonial sunset and we, who are left, on crinoline Sunday mornings will write down recipes from our mother’s oil-marked magazines for luncheons our lovers never show up for, will enjoy the greasy taste of a city left to oneiric requiems, will count icepacks left on the bed in the dark. Some afternoons, I count shadows of tiny birds on my father’s knees and on others, I count people in the supermarket just to remind myself the world is a lot lonelier now but not just to me. No one buys cheap stoneware dishes for their old mothers, they stand quietly at the counter and intone spindly summer thoughts for their kids. And the kids, othered from the loss, groove to the mock static of indifference. The supermarket is always loud but not sad enough to drown the convolutions of our loneliness so we hold on to our stories till our grief crests and tides like morning sunlight on river walks. Is it enough to say we can no longer look into each other’s eyes without crying, without believing we are buffeting apart the graced hearts of our enemies? How will one explain this nightmare to their lover for comfort? Perhaps every percussive song ladling out of this ungodly ossuary clamps an answer. Truth: the maps of absence are full of wilting shadows and the hearts nailed with human guilt. Now we can see why our mothers prayed but didn’t have the courage to love. The world always finds its ways to pencil despair over our flesh. I am not even exaggerating when I say in this empty house I can hear you whine about grapefruit stains on your winter coat. For you, I sing the same songs and read the same obit. The backdoor opens to a Klein blue evening but please don’t leave.