to prove how far away nebraska is you speak in whispers

The problem must be on your end,

You said with more than a hint

Of exasperation (something else there as well

Tangible but fading in and out with the signal),

And most likely you were right,

The lay of the land in these parts

Fraught with no shortage of glacial hijinks:

Moraines cutting off abruptly in half-finished bell curves,

High-ridged valleys transforming squalls and thunderstorms

Into mad, howling meteorological harpies

(But listen, I said, to how they play catch

With the sound of fireworks or church bells

Until they seem to come from nowhere

Yet everywhere at once,

But I suspect that part of the call

Was bamboozled by an inconvenient hillside.)

 

…can follow an airplane across the sky for hours

(I’d parked the car at the top of Bootjack Hill,

Your voice mysteriously, almost magically re-materializing

Just as the ancient, acid-washed stones of the old cemetery came into view),

And you’ve never seen such crisp, sharp light

In all your days, and before I could respond

You said softly, almost conspiratorily

Now don’t you start your silliness about sorbet skies at dusk,

As if sunsets or poetry ever put groceries in the cupboards,

And I would have sworn, even you spoke in little more than a murmur,

That you had never left at all, but were no more than a few feet away.

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5 thoughts on “to prove how far away nebraska is you speak in whispers

  1. Of course I visited your blog to read some of your poems and fell on this one by chance. It has an almost physical presence on the page – her voice fading in and out in a counterpoint to the geography – the landscape echoing the relationship and the conversation echoing the landscape and the whole falling into that last wistful moment with a murmur that could almost be right next to you yet is so far away. Lovely.

  2. Memory is a powerful and unforgiving thing. I have to say that this is one of my favourites of all your pieces: the sense of mystery, words spoken clearly, whispered or not said, just felt on the common breeze of human experience… it’s all a big wham for me.

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