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Thirst

This is the longest winter, the lengthiest my own memory can recall, the coldest, snowiest, loneliest
     meaning
I’ve had more time to marvel how the three years stretch since we’ve shared conversation
     (or you’ve smiled at me without malice,
     asked about my life)
     or that we could exist in the same room, at the same table,
without what smolders between us relighting, drawing perilously close to the fuse that waits
     for the bomb
     (tick tick)
     (will it live always between us? tick tick);
three years—a thousand days—since I’ve heard your kind voice,
     pondered why you hum
     slightly out of key
     though I know you sing so well—
I’ve been wondering about you. Are you troubled
     by the ice storm that came last night?
     Did you feed the birds as I did,
     watch them from the bedroom window?
Three years later, my dread of cardinals has lessened though they will always remind me of you.
It was only rain here (so much farther South), a few pellets of sleet, not enough accumulation
     to amount to anything,
     not worth mentioning
     if we were speaking, but we don’t,
so I return to my reading, which is all about water: poems, stories, essays, even my emails are about
     streams and rivers
     lakes and oceans
     liquid bodies unending,
sometimes swelling, sometimes deceiving. I read about this water all day
though the water at my house has frozen down in the ground, where the plumbing lies buried between
the deep well and my faucets. I shower at friends’, carry bottles home to drink until my pipes thaw.
     Is this irony enough for you?
These are the thoughts that occupy my mind today—not the dream of you that jolted me
     awake in the middle of the cold night,
     not the prayers for you I whispered in half sleep
     again and always

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