from “Please Bury Me in This”
Now my neighbor through the wall playing piano, I imagine, with her eyes closed.
When she stops playing, she disappears.
I am still waiting for the right words to explain myself to you.
When there was nothing left to smoke, I drew on my lips with a pen until they were black.
Or is this what it means to be empty: to make no sound?
I pressed my mouth to the wall until I’d made a small gray ring.
Or maybe emptiness is a form of listening.
Maybe I am just listening.
Copyright © 2016 by Allison Benis White. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
“This poem is from my book-length series, Please Bury Me in This, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2017. Beyond my piano-playing neighbor, who has since moved and been replaced by two quiet brothers, I don’t remember writing this poem at all (usually a good sign). Although I do remember the late C. D. Wright’s words, ‘Follow the lights in your own skull.’”
—Allison Benis White