Turn Over, Love

—Harry Lafnear

The ear doesn’t blink or spit or blow,
but remains open and willing despite disinterest,
a stony will or any rude intent.
It is open even in sleep,
as the air-conditioner seeds my dreams
with the guttural nag of a train-station crowd
or the clatter of smooth, black, river stones.

It is open to hallway footsteps
bearing down or forever diminished
under the strain of names forgotten,
or those remembered too late by a parched throat
or whispered from an abandoned well,
the voice harrowed in echoes of memory,
first or false, of lost or latest loves.

This chasm, my ear, is wide with worry
when a word mistaken is made the world:
then turn becomes hearse;
over makes war;
and love is always blood.

Or as tonight, when the sizzle of rain
burns down the house,
the spattering gutter cracks my ghostly bones.
Still the ear does not shirk or shrink.
It remains, despite everything, graciously available
to the chorus, the march, the requiem,
the soft secret, the timid truth,
or any pleading prayer.

It is, after all, for the sake of these the ear is open,
the passage left unguarded for any spell
to tease its way through the brain
and into the welcoming den of the day-weary heart.
For these, all our dreams go softly mad,
waiting a chance to be worthy
of that which wanders in.

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