The phone spills sound
I recognise as speech
but cannot understand when spoken
in my friend's voice.
I listen without response.
Any words coagulate,
congeal, fill my throat,
my mouth with the
ferrous tang of blood.

Are you there? he asks
and I, wishing I wasn't,
(hadn't heard, didn't know)
make wordless sounds
of affirmation.

He continues, flat, uninflected
describing transgressions
imparting information,
like an auction catalogue:
facts coded to provide
a sketch devoid of the details
necessary for comprehension.

Then hiatus,
automatic platitudes
piling up behind the
scab of silence 'til
the surface splits and
out they flow.
Ifwecanhelp … ifthereis

He staunches them
with a Band-aid No.

In my hallway, I turn,
shifting my feet
when a low-battery beep trumpets
divine intervention.
The dead signal absolves me
from having to judge
what I am not
be able to forgive.

I wait just long enough
before calling back
to ensure his phone
rings unanswered.

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