Song at the End of the Mind

I think of you as a radio frequency—

sometimes hard to find


as I touch the illuminated dial.

But tonight you arrive


murmuring into my ear in halfsleep;


you offer a suitcase of small pleasures

and laughter that somersault across the country.


In this time of shelter in place,

we are fevered wanderers


with nothing but an open screen;


handheld devices offering luminous ellipses.

We heal the earthquaked bones


of our pasts decorating rough mouths

with new vocabularies—


no longer deferred.


As the world quiets,

I’m awake to our longings.


All that is left: to congregate

close along the shoreline


unbandaged and unadorned;


to listen to the smooth rhythm and blues

of Quarantine Radio.


This one goes out to you.

Click here to read Susan Rich on the origin of the poem.

Susan Rich:
While everything in the house sleeps, the alchemical hours unfurl. If you work at night, you already know this. Relationships, too, may take root after midnight with the complicity of laptops and smart phones. Transformations that exist best after hours. A certain kind of radio frequency. Sometimes people can connect with perfectly clear reception, other times, just static. This poem includes fragments of dream speech between myself and a beloved who lives faraway. Right now, we are both unified in, and separated by, this virus. Perhaps others find themselves in a similar situation. I hope for a future where touch comes back en vogue. The poem’s inception was born out of one late night conversation. I texted, I think of you like a radio frequency. And yes, his response came through: sometimes hard to find. Such borrowed lines are used with the permission of my kind friend.


Photo: Radio Dial, licensed under CC 2.0

Susan Rich
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