telephone wires for the dead
we were digging in the yard when we found the voice.
had been looking for bottle caps & coins. dirt
in our knuckles & under nails. brothers are a framework
for unearthing. i knew duality from the way
his arm raised as mine would fall. static & full
of juniper, the voice asked, "operator?"
& both of us shook our heads. none of us was skilled
at directing voices towards their destinations.
in fact, we didn't talk much to each other even.
the voice begged & said, "i have been calling
for decades. every single day." the dead have phones.
i didn't ask questions. if you learn too much
about the dead you will become one. i plugged my ears.
imagined a field of phone booths. all the dead
sitting there with a lap full of coins. calling & calling
on through their nights & days. i see my brother & i.
would he call me? would he call me as endlessly
as i would call him? i feel the weight of a telephone
in my chest. a chord tethering me to a channel of tongues
tangled in the dirt. "hang up," my brother said.
unsure how to, we start filling in the hole we dug.
the voice became more and more static until there was
tree-rustling quiet. i should have asked their name.
i should have tried to help them.
my brother crossed the yard alone. started digging again
without me this time. i went up to my bedroom.
put my ear to the wall as if i might hear
the voice again. then, at the same time, in a future,
removing the phone from between my ribs
& calling my brother. he doesn't pick up.
night fell & my brother brought in a handful
of bottlecaps. left me a few outside
my bedroom door. still covered with soil.