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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 12, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem is from my book-length series, Please Bury Me in This, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2017. Beyond my piano-playing neighbor, who has since moved and been replaced by two quiet brothers, I don’t remember writing this poem at all (usually a good sign). Although I do remember the late C. D. Wright’s words, ‘Follow the lights in your own skull.’”
—Allison Benis White

from “Please Bury Me in This”

Now my neighbor through the wall playing piano, I imagine, with her eyes closed.

When she stops playing, she disappears.

I am still waiting for the right words to explain myself to you.

When there was nothing left to smoke, I drew on my lips with a pen until they were black.

Or is this what it means to be empty: to make no sound?

I pressed my mouth to the wall until I’d made a small gray ring.

Or maybe emptiness is a form of listening.

Maybe I am just listening.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Allison Benis White. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Allison Benis White. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Allison Benis White

Allison Benis White

Allison Benis White is the author of Please Bury Me in This (Four Way Books, forthcoming in 2017) and Small Porcelain Head (Four Way Books, 2013).

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I am writing to you as an act of ending.

Cutting faces out of paper and folding them in envelopes like thoughts.

Am I a monster, Clarice Lispector asked in The Hour of the Star, or is this what it means to be human?

To be alive, I think as I cut another face.

What

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In the museum of sadness, in the museum of light—

I would climb so carefully inside the glass coffin and lower the lid.

Do you think the saying is true: when someone dies, a library burns down?

Maybe just a sentence, scratched slowly on the lid, Say what you mean.

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Looking up in the dark I thought, Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.

I tried in the closet but the rope broke.

Maybe the relief of conversation, of something almost happening.

The way in the morning, lying on the floor, the light through the blinds cuts my face.

Less than hope: