When They Said They Loved His Voice on the Stair

when she will no longer remember why
she came here

when the saddle tilted too much
the wrong way

when she will recall how they were holding hands under the table

when only the right ulnar nerve
has become entrapped

when the island will be covered
in snow

when the left hand has worked so hard
for so long without complaint

when the redheaded beauty will deliver
the scent of rosewater to her again

when the giraffe has batted
its long lashes one more time in the alley

when she will no longer remember why
she hurt herself so viciously

when a loud “no” was necessary + not
always enough

when a full-throated “yes”
will begin to happen naturally

when she used to sit on an open window
sill + gaze at the Bronx street below

when she will turn 59 next
when Virginia didn’t turn 60

when she first discovered
she loves the minor key

when his fingers will do
the remembering

when she lost the callous
on her left middle one

when she will lose her voice forever
when she loved his best

when her love affair
with the Mississippi River began

when will she take the last walk
alongside it

when the ocean was beginning
to die

when where will be
the waves

when she has no more
when’s to give

then it will be time to stop
running away from home


Note: The title comes from a soliloquy by the character Rhoda in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.

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