What's That You Said?

Matt Morton


That’s it! that’s exactly what I meant!
said no one. Some days, even the weather
seems drunk. It was snowing, and it was going
to come a flood, lost dog poster racing along
the curb. For a year, he repeated her name until
it sounded like haloed gobbledygook. The brook
babbles beside the trail, saying more than a person
could hope to take in at once. Date circled,
the calendar stares at the woman sitting rigidly
at the table, waiting for her husband to come home.
In the blender: raspberries, benzodiazepines, sleet.
Overnight, fresh powder fell on the slope,
but this morning you’re stuck inside on hold,
on the phone with the cable company,
with the woman who bathes your mom.
She thinks you’re her mother now. You were sure
you understood what all this was about,
where the curtain was, what was behind it.
Stretched taut as a drumhead over the sea,
the sky is blue, but I can never remember why,
just as the bull elk that defines the meadow
communicates something it can’t understand.
Most days it’s hard to make out anything,
what with the distant thunder, the freeway all blare
and whoosh, familiar voice picked up
on the shortwave, parents’ murmurs overheard
in the kitchen downstairs, then, at once:
silence. No violins. No wind setting fire
to leaves. No rain on the gutter, storm siren,
one-man band. Only the hush settling
over the houses, which signifies absolutely
nothing, and makes what little difference there is.