Two Poems by Suzanne Wise

The Conversation


The head of the stranger
I sat across from
disappeared    then reappeared
then disappeared  then
        and so on.
I continued talking and
to the head
even when it wasn’t
      the voice continued
    to travel toward
from above the
       and I did not let on
that anything strange
                      may be     maybe
a migraine-induced hallucination
that head thought
putting me in
her place and more distance
               between us.
        Did the skin and hair
slowly disintegrate
or sudden   like a jump cut
               or what
did the head look
like or said or sounded
I must have been
by what was
    and was not     not
to mention the fact
that I was
        asleep    I told
the telephone
        and listened
for the voice I didn’t
recognize but had
at one time
spoken to
     as I would
to my self
inside my head
    but kinder.
I was that
the voice might have said
    breaking up
inside the line.






When it’s not my voice
out in front, allowing me
        to withdraw, it’s my hands, which are better
at inflammation, wearing gloves and stripping—
once, listening to someone
                               and acting
relaxed, my fingers retracting reflexively,
as if they held air only and didn’t like the feel of it,
broke the empty wine glass
and continued holding pieces
until the finalee of the story
as if still the end product
whose function is to empty out—
drawing tiny, meticulous self portraits
as twins with no hands, the artist says—
               I left them out because they’re hard to draw—
this represents one way to solve a hand problem.
Or, this represents how some problems can’t be represented.
Or, this represents the way a problem can reproduce
such that two problems might be reflections
               of some other problem.
For example, sometimes my hand problem gets so bad
I end up with a writing problem.





Suzanne Wise is the author of the poetry collection The Kingdom of the Subjunctive. Her poetry can also be found in current or recent issues of the journals American Letters and Commentary, Bone Bouquet, Catch Up, Green Mountains Review and Quarter After Eight.

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