Too Much To Ask

I’m sitting by the phone,
waiting to hear from you,
my arms droop from the side
of the chair as I hold
the newspaper in my right hand
and smoke a cigarette using my left.
There’s a terrible war raging outside
and the reports are full of feelings,
opinions, and warnings. The struggle,
as they put it unimaginatively,
is real.

(As if I didn’t know.)

I close my eyes and see your face,
your smile reflecting in your eyes,
saying something
to me that I will never ask to
be said out loud. You’re looking at me with
an earnestness I have come to expect,
a puzzle that I must decipher on my own.

I refuse to try.
Don’t, I say to myself.

To distract myself, I write poems
about other people’s
empty bookcases,
their burrowed sorrows,
their perfectly made beds,
and even their uncooperative creepers.

I weave us in the passing
of these languid days
so that when you finally call,
and I’ve been missing
you for five days straight,
I answer the phone
and say, “I was just reading the newspaper
and it is so full of emotion.
What is wrong with these people?”

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