A lonely man asks grandmothers for advice.
He listens to Gertrude in the ceiling,
she tells him to be a doctor.
When the floorboards respond
Anna tells him to get married.
and bring lots of grandchildren to his mother.
When he asks his glass of whiskey,
the watery voice is his father’s,
and no advice comes;
just a sound, a sigh, like the last heave
before leaping off the high dive.
He gathers his keys, his shoes, and jacket and hat,
before lurching into the quiet dusk.
This is where the dead live, in the space between
the sun and the stars, an empty horizon in both
After a short walk, he wants food
He thinks he wants to practice law,
and find a wife, but settles for a beer
to bring his mind a little closer
to his advisors.
As the sun’s coils retreat, the voices
settle into passing cars, and the melodic chirp
of crosswalk signals. He sits outside
near a row of bicycles, fallen one over another,
and takes out his pen, and a notebook.
He spends a few minutes watching the ink
cover the paper, he draws circles, and ears,
and noses, and finally mouths.
He looks at the dark lines and thinks,
this is where the dead live.
In the small space
between the pen and the paper,
between the dark ink,
and the white page.
He closes his eyes, and writes questions.
Not knowing what he’s asking, but with hope
that there will be answers. He turns the page
and the pen continues on its course
until he fills the entire notebook.
When he opens his eyes,
the stars have begun their blue erosion,
the sun’s reconnaissance of the day.
He flips through the book, and sees pictures
of Gertrude and Anna, their eyes black,
their faces smile but not with their lips.
Over and over, he had drawn pictures,
until the final page, where a single line
is written twenty times,
“It comes for all of us”
was scrawled in two styles,
neither his own.
When he stands up, he wants another beer,
turning to go back to the store, he sees a woman,
strolling down the road with a small child.
She stops in front of him, exhausted,
She sighs and sits down,
and they begin talking, she is a doctor,
freshly divorced, with an adorable little girl.
At that moment the traffic has drained
into the bedroom, the cross walk chirps stop,
and he looks into her face, and sees a smile,
though her mouth remains sealed into a line.
To himself, he thinks,
is where the dead live.