Issue 157, Winter 2000
And on the receiver's live air, the insistent hello
from someone who has refused to hang up, the plea
divorced from all name and form,
an argument's last word splintering through the black
warped as the metal where the last dialer's face floated
above square numbers, where
every voice is listed under code, like combinations
to an immense vault of wires.
Only static has figured all of them out.
I hear it like a safecracker' stools thieving through connection,
if being invisible can be called connection.
Now it is silencing my answers
to the other voice, the living one.
Now it is peeling the two wires apart.
Has it decoded even the walkers whose
garments brush against the window glass?
I can hear their words only in fragments,
like taped voices being rewound and then deleted.
The shopping center doors clap shut and open,
the atonal hum returns-unidentifiable
out in the crowds, how decisively the dialer must still be
propelling himself from the argument,
forgetting, by degrees, the voice, the face, the number,
murmuring it's not impossible, really,
nothing can reach me as the poles
follow him, faceless totems surrounding
and claiming every imaginable distance.