listen to the middle voice.

by Felix Stokes

i will take you now,          let me
have your hand (i heard
there’s an artery straight
to the heart from your wrist),
let me hold it,     and i will
               take you now.

listen.                shut your eyes, and
listen, and really listen,             i know
when your mind             drifts. listen
to the birds outside the window
and how they bark,             sharp,
arched and bent and rusty,
sometimes, rusty like crows,                   listen
to how the wind shutters across
trees                  (maybe this is too quiet,
maybe you are inside. if inside,
look for a small hum or dense hiss,
and        you didn’t know you could
hear this).                    you drift,
i think, so come back with me, and
            i will ask you how you feel.

flat?                waiting for time’s rush,
            soft?
                                    some deadline or future something,
                      something that breathes as a constant
in your brain,              i think we all know
what i mean,               i think if only i could
read yours, read the backs of your thoughts,
i could tell you that this is what
this poem is about. the birds and
the wind and the rush of the leaves,
i could tsiwt like vines and run
the branches into knots that
read like these thoughts           (only those
you would not care for me to hear,
those you order to be silent, who rustle
like leaves,
                                rusty like crows).

but of course, it is about this.
it is always about this, it is this

            that your silent sitting
                      masks.