For Reetika Vazirani (1962-2003)
Hang up that heavy black receiver.
You don’t need to call those memories
and invite them to dinner again.
Throw away that decade-old bouquet of arguments
picked from your mother’s garden.
You’ve kept them in water too long,
and your lungs have begun to crave the dirt.
Come to the kitchen. I’ll open a jar of late October sunlight
preserved for days like this. You make the tea,
we don’t have to speak. We can let our mouths
cosset their tongues, let our spoons, heavy with honey,
do the weeping. When were done, we’ll cut
the hands off the clock, tie our hair
out of our faces, and clean the skeletons
out of your closet. We’ll laugh about how
you used to dress those bones up in chiffon
and take them out to poetry readings, strangers
gawking as you stood behind podiums, slow
dancing with your misery. Come back and we’ll
stay home. We’ll put down our pens and raise
our voices like empty beer bottles. We’ll be born
again into blue-jeans and sweatshirts. We’ll grow
the hands of carpenters, become fluent in wood
and hammers; we’ll break open those rib cages
and build a cradle lined with breath.
Together, we’ll make a soft place for you to put down
the voices you carried night and day,
insistent and greedy as a newborn baby.