What We Talk About

written by Eileen Walsh Duncan

In the drought, we talk about rain
and the words press like fat markers,
wet stains on paper.
In the deluge, we talk about sun
and the words
drowse open like dry grass,
split their pith hearts in the heat.

We hold to the center
of the quavering eye, 
the words barreling around us.

So we don’t talk about
the way “I love you” really means
“I love the things you do for me.”
I lie down in the white grass,
each blade a pin sipping pain.
Beneath me, my damp shadow exhales.
And all the other things
that we were blur around 
the edges of those three words,
their intrinsic command.

And only when we’re each alone 
– or what we call lonely –
does anyone feel the door
– that displacement, that extra
lightness of air – 
the door ajar to
– what we agreed to without speaking –  
call emptiness,
but is thick with loss.

Eileen Walsh Duncan‘s poems have appeared in numerous journals including The Washington State Geospatial Poetry Anthology, Off the Coast, Hubbub, Seattle Review, Switched-on Gutenberg, Crab Creek Review, Pontoon, Fault Lines Journal, Cascadia Review, Pure Francis, and Seattle’s Poetry on the Buses. She received the Bentley Award from Seattle Review, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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