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.

About this Poem

“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 Beyond my piano-playing neighbor, who has since moved and been replaced by two quiet brothers, I don’t remember writing this poem at all (usually a good sign).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