in iowa, I live with a poet
whose voice passes through our shared wall, muffled,
as she reads her work out loud
or, maybe, just has conversations with herself.
come winter she plants paperwhites
in pots filled with pebbles and tap water
and when the white flowers blossom,
the plants flop over, top-heavy, sleepy.
but she ties them back upright
with grey grosgrain ribbon
and on christmas eve when I come home blubbering
she takes care of me with the same tender hands:
putting the kettle on, then helping me remove
with soap and warm water
the tiny engagement ring that has lodged itself into my swollen skin.
in january our lease is up
and we move to other landscapes: she to the west, me to the north.
every once in a blue moon
a poem from her arrives in the mail
and I read it aloud, doing my best impression of her,
running into the adjoining room afterwards
trying to catch the words before they fade.