By Lesley Wheeler
Featured Art: Birthday Party by Margaret Burroughs
Dream-phone rang and I thought: that’s exactly
his voice. I haven’t forgotten. Then: but I could
forget, because he’s dead. Hi, sorry it’s been so long,
but I was sick and the doctors messed everything up.
He made that shrug-noise, dismissive but pained,
meaning he’s lying or leaving something out.
It’s snowing here, and then a click, click, over the line,
and a neutral woman’s voice, slightly officious:
This recording was intercepted. If you wish to replay
this message, dial this number now, and she recited
a blizzard of digits while I flailed
for a pen then found myself tangled in blankets.
The window a bruise beginning to fade.
Here mist wreathes the trunks. In a few months
snow will crisp the grass, insulate and numb the oaks
with feathery layers that would soak and freeze
a human being. When and where is he? Snug,
maybe, watching weather through double panes.
Or wanting to be. I heard a bead of doubt
suspended in his voice, a cool guess he’d missed
something, before my operator intervened,
reason declaring: This is memory. The line is cut.