The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Nicholas Molbert

How to be Quiet if Need Be

          Our porous loft made more porous now
that your Labor & Delivery night shift
          turns my ear to my noise
when I spend days awake

          and you are asleep. My feet tick
on the kitchen linoleum
          and the sound slips over the half-walls
of our bedroom, and, in no time,

          I have constructed unique accounting.
I know I look cartoonish—villainous, even—
          hugging the walls with my steps
(standardized: fourteen, gaping)

          from carpet’s edge
to ass on the toilet seat. I care enough
          about quiet to notice
two touches of “+:30” eliminates
          two of the microwave’s beeps from the regular
“1,” “0,” “0,” “Start.” This diligence
          you have mused in me,
and you will never know it. Then again, which saint
          is familiar with their own hagiography?
On this side of slumber, I have trained myself
          in lightness, in slighting
myself in silence in this space we share.

          I am the fruitfly banging
at the window, slurping juice unseen
          from the banana’s splotchy skin—
unheard, unheard—and if you were wondering,
          according to my manual,
the number of heel-toe footfalls needed
          to cover the space between bed
    and couch is approximately the number

          of breaths you take
per minute in your deepest sleep.

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