Interview With the Reader

by Janet McAdams

1. She gave you a list. What were the first three items? 1.Woods to go to, the fish-shaped leaves of lilies,
well water with its arc of rust.
2. What windows did you cover? What doors were boarded
up against the bitter winter?
2. There were no windows. Every door hung open.
3. Did a phoebe call out fee-bee? Did the mockingbird say
your name?
3. I heard a name but it was not my name.
I heard a name but it was only an echo.
4. Was it only a flesh wound? Did anyone suffer? 4. Are there other kinds of wounds? I am not tired of happiness.
5. What was the song that the heart learned to whistle?
Did the bell have a tongue? What did you know about silence,
before you fell through the clear sky air?
5. Only the lub-dub of the body’s river, pushing and pulling,
the daily wave of flotsam and jetsam. I knew
a different kind of quiet.
6. And what was left in the knapsack, in the abandoned
basket at the lakeshore, after Summer burned like a yellow
thread into Autumn?
6. The ribs of an umbrella that no longer opens.
A gold ring from a woman’s ear.
This book, which I’ll close, when your voice grows faint
and my ear turns toward another story.