The Difference

(IBPC Winner from Melic's Poetry Board, the Roundtable)

Trees are talking again.
Hemlocks, elms, maples whispering
their sugar to me, their lullabies,
saying "Time to go."

No surprise that he hears them, too—
insisting they compete with him for work,
telling me the hounds in the neighborhood
crouch outside our windows begging
for a drink.

I am alone with this, alone with these chattering
trees, these demons that call him to join them
in song, to dance to their fire.

Tonight, outside their circle, he dances barefoot.
I watch him strip down.
Elaine and I pretend to ignore it.
We hear the fall.

She wonders should we go to "Emergency."
Blood pours down a face I kiss night after night.

"It looks worse than it is," I warn her,
wanting to scream "Emergency" for two years.

If this is a disease, why
do they meet in the basement of churches?
If the trees are whispering again, why
can’t the others hear them?

Listen," I repeat, opening the window
to let in the settling autumn—
"Much worse…."

I walk around his body, make my way
to the stove, turn down the flame
dancing to its own tune.
I stir rapidly, hope
I can save the potatoes.