Calling the Characters

Is this the right house? Shabbier than last time
but when was that? Two weeks ago? Two months?
Have they forgotten me? The door’s unlocked,
left open for me or somebody else
who fawns over them, a con man after their money
(do they have any?), who listens to their stories
(have I forgotten them?) over and over again.
How still the house sounds.

They sit on the screened-in porch,
silent as after hearing bad news
or an embarrassing remark. They pay me
no mind. Is it supper already?
When I follow them inside, when I sit
in the one place left for a stranger,
nobody looks at me. Nobody passes me
the plate of cold cuts.

They have not spoken for weeks
but they know I am here.
And now, in voices dipped from a pool
of still water, they say inane things,
talking away at each other, small talk,
though not small, I think, as I listen
to what’s left unsaid, as I let myself
into their lives again, as I turn transparent

and they grow stronger, noisier, telling each other
what’s on their minds, their words filling me up
till I know what they’ll say before they say it.
They talk openly now, glad that I’m listening.
They open their hearts.
I leave my self at the door.
Outside, darkness falls but so what?
By their voices I know them.

I take out my pen and write their story.