Peter Kline


My lover can’t get out of bed.
I carry in cold from the street.
I pile the new mail on the old
and make the canned vegetables neat.

And fix something good on the stove
to fill the whole house with a hunger.
And muffle the knife on the board.
And touch with the tips of my fingers.

And lock every window and door.
And throw all the windowshades open.
My lover can’t make up her mind
whether today’s meant to happen.

To lie down beside her might help
but I worry to make the suggestion—
an emptiness hangs from the hook
of even the gentlest question.

Beneath my uncertain caresses
her thoughts keep on turning to threat
as though I’ve been doing some violence
she can’t confess to yet.