Never Better

By Mark Kraushaar

Featured Art: Kalaat el Hosn (Castle of the Knights, Syria) by Louis De Clercq

On the phone tonight
it’s my ex-wife asking how I am.
I’m fine, thanks, you?
Well, she’s fine too: new place,
friends, job, cousin, pet: perfect.

But now she’s back on her friends again,
friends, food, movies, books and I think,
She sat where I’m sitting now,
I remember, looked out
at the back yard, the neighbor’s car,
the sapling maple at the curb.
She’d have used this plate,
that glass, this chair.
She’s still talking and I like her voice—
politics, work, winter weather—except
there’s this private inside silence going on
and maybe it’s mine but I think it’s hers, or,
it’s a kind of leaning forward through the phone
meaning if we could talk the way we
used to talk we’d know better
where to go and what to do
when we arrive.
We’re quiet
and I can hear her
hear me hear this silence
fill with implication and we’re still.


Mark Kraushaar’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry as well as the website Poetry Daily. A full-length collection, Falling Brick Kills Local Man published in 2009 by University of Wisconsin Press, was winner of the Felix Pollak Prize, and a new collection, The Uncertainty Principle, published in the fall of 2011 by Waywiser Press, was winner of the Anthony Hecht Prize.

Piece originally published in NOR 13.

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