Boil

I’m not sure why I bother talking to the dead
as I watch the pot, never boiling,
waiting for the simmer to steam.
Every morning, as I sift grinds into the paper filter,
I go through the litany again, waiting for the response.
But it’s impossible to touch the emptiness,
to snap my fingers to get their attention,
to lift their gaze from their seat,
as if to wake them from their trance at the high window,
staring down to the street.

Could I be brave enough, foolish enough, to fake my own death
just to go in after them?
To abandon my well-lit stoop and front door
with the lock that clicks twice, once at the bottom and once again at the top
for extra protection from ghosts and strangers
that test the knob at night?
Would I be willing to slip pennies into my pockets
to pay the tolls across the river to see them again?
Are any of us willing to go too far into the deep to look for what we’ve lost?
Would I trade my own body, give the skin off my bones,
my own ability to touch her,
to watch her shift her hair from her eyes,
like she used to?

The hissing of kettle turns to howling, impatient,
and I’m snapped out of my trance.
A nod of the pitcher, the ritual of pouring
two, three times, pouring the way she used to.
waiting and watching the bloom
growing then dissipating behind the curtain,
aware of the absurdity of it all.
The truth of the matter is we’re all just south of the boil
just a wrong half-step from that pinch of the wick.
Our stories eventually become too big for our bodies, our most human restraints.
But there’s no point in chasing anyone down that rabbit hole
because we’ll always look over our shoulder at what we’ve left behind,
when we’re all headed that way.