by Sonja Vitow
IF I AM QUIET
I STARE INTO YOUR lowercase "ii"s
until they stare back, I know
the sound each of your "oo"s
makes without consonants
for context, when I close my
eyes, the phosphenes glow
in the shape of your idioms
& I can read them in my sleep.
I’ve carved your sentences
from salt bricks, dissolved
them on my tongue. I learned
the curves of your serifs, the grit
of your voice between my bicuspids.
A trace of you escapes each time
I sigh. When they start to run
out, I will tuck your last letters
in my mouth & lick it shut.
After a year without windows, we pack
up everything between those white walls,
empty the closet, wire hangers like winter
crows, your body wooden, an uneven fence,
mine made of straw, unable to protect
anything, always rustling. We fill the closet
with a fine tornado of wild but familiar
noises, with smoke and laughter and a calm
that rattles the hangers like a sudden wind,
then at dusk we move far away,
unload our boxes, turn ourselves
over to the mercy of the next place.
SONJA VITOW is a high school language teacher, co-editor of the lit mag The Knicknackery (theknicknackery.com), and weepy acoustic music apologist. Some of her writing can be found in Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, and is forthcoming in Harvard Review. She was first runner-up in Zoetrope: All Story's 2013 Short Fiction Contest. Outside of the Internet, she lives in Boston, where her small dog terrorizes local park-goers. Inside the internet, you can find her at sonjavitow.com.