Margaret Ross

            Often I spoke just to hear
your voice returned to me, a living
wall, a stop, the rest, the dead-end down
            the block “and then

            the lights went.” Out on
the roof we’re eye-level with
dry leaves wind hustles, some flaking off
            a present tense like brittle

            plaster hardening all along the contours
of a dead man’s face, we pass the time away
inventing little motives for a squirrel
            hesitating when limbs cross

            streetlights let fall skirts of
rust-colored gauze where someone’s walking
back from work, soft humming carries
            from the next life

            over. It’s possible to feel from here
how far apart (“What are you
thinking now”) (shut up, shut up wherever) we are so
            often I speak just to keep

            myself there. To hear my voice worn
by a sturdy body alien
to me, like stealing one’s way down
            an unlit hall with one palm on the homely

            pockmarked finish of the stucco
hidden from such incandescent need
not to have done and not to have
            nights, I read my mind

            free of itself, I mean
asleep. I mean broke into lives I didn’t own
knowing of them only
            what could be perceived through

            narrow apertures the syntax pried,
the voicemail called that space alive
you’ve reached
            some arid unremitted tract

            Earth wouldn’t stow the
breeze couldn’t tow (and aren’t
the leaves just busy wallpaper
            slapped up over the view

            of others arguing?) “Are you
ready to go inside?” It felt like drifting
off against a window on the dark bus, waking
            there was nothing

            to my hand but a distant sting. (“Oh
not really about anything”) Often I
just to lull thought lay
            my cheek down on the cool pause

            of the bathroom tile
waiting for the day to
break sense in
            to make sense echo off

            numb silence, were you near
I’d press my ear against the wall
that is your living back
            and farther back

            behind the warm slab
breath leans into, trying
to dislodge, would think I