It's just poetry, it won't bite

when she cut out her voice

02.28.13 Posted in words to linger on by

Kate Hammerich’s most recent poem to appear here was 23 Blocks (September 2012).

when she cut out her voice
By Kate Hammerich

She is lost and the monster is coming. Her head tilts and jerks like a bird bouncing lightly
on the bladed grass.

There is a ringing phone in her hands and it confuses her so much her chest aches and she
begins to rock, tracing the blue buttons as if they might speak. Press down. A voice.

This she knows. This voice is strong and limber inside her whiplash of a body.

So thirsty, she whispers. I got lost.

She tunes in and out. The cadence of a voice who knows that to keep talking, on and on,
means life to the listener who is trying to blend the music of voice and whispering corn
blades and that far off discord that means danger.

Later she will remember a joke the voice made and wake laughing and rocking with the joy
of a child, run to the phone and dial over and over a number she cannot remember.

But when a stranger with a calm voice and gentle hands takes the phone away and guides
her to a chair with a piece of paper and a crayon she begins to write. And remembers the
discord. The crunch of gravel under a boot, the shout of discovery, the voice on the phone
slipping suddenly, like her legs slipped away from her. The way she knew enough to cradle
the voice between her shoulder and neck.

Started breaking the crayon into pieces, chest heaving, remembering to name the voice
friend and the unspeakable cruelty of living that shattered moment over and over with
someone she couldn’t protect.

She hears her own memory-voice, firm, like the blade against the leaping pulse in her
throat. Don’t touch me. Please leave.

Her hands are wet in the dry air, hotter, burning touch.

Wonders then, mutilating a crayon, what a listener would have seen, synapse to synapse, if
cartilage makes a sound, if the voice knew she was drowning too fast to scream

or listened to the strange chorus of voices,

Don’t do it. Put it down.

Put it down now!

Don’t make me shoot.

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