The Tapes


The Tapes

He left messages while I was at work.
Clichés, like, “Truly madly in love with you.”
But I liked it, standing in my tiny galley kitchen,
the rising smell of the neighbor's roast,
squeezed into the corner that used to be a broom closet,
smiling at the answering machine.

I cooked then. I was vegan. I had cats. 
I hid notes in his bag when he traveled.
It was easy: Routine, meals, jokes, sleepy pantomime.
But I just couldn’t care about his guitars
so I left his mother’s cousin’s diamond on his windowsill. 

Now he is calling to tell me after two years of chemo
he's lacing up his old black Chucks and saying goodbye.
I scolded him for the time he made me watch Cleveland lose the World Series.
I told him to take care.

I still have the messages,
black stacks of tapes climb the wet basement wall,
his sound a powder

– Teresa Kiplinger


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