from Audiology

Ellen Kaufman
| poetry


My brain can barely fathom him at all.

After the usual kiss, he fades away.

But when I wake him he wants me to stay

so I do.  He perks up in the dining hall,


among familiar faces at the shared table.

The food’s not bad.  It’s a Community.

Some still work , drive, head for the city.

Others are swallowed by the lower level,


but temporarily, the rest can hope.

Upstairs, absence is noted.  Shared chagrin

drops like a fork. You have to leave it there.

Waffles are eaten by the ones who dare.

The brains converse while spooning it all in.

Most would prefer to die in their sleep.


Most would prefer to die in their sleep,

not on the stage like tragic characters

whose deaths are written actions to rehearse

along with duels and kisses. To not weep


at the end’s end, or give death lines to say.

Still, some survive the moment of their fall.

Aglow, they re-enter for the curtain call

to die and die again, day after day,


until life intervenes with quiet carnage.

The show goes on, but this old play is done

at least for us. Our lead man has been cut.

He still has lines, but only speaks to one

at a time: a ghost. Fathers are like that

and for a while everything feels like a stage.


For a while everything feels like a stage:

a prism of quietness to penetrate

with the machinery of set and plot

and the iconic inadequacies of language.


The end is written first.  The imagination

wanders as far away as possible

not to surprise us, but to make us real.

Every sea is actually an ocean


and all the oceans are just one big one.

Time is the act of passing over it

from one wave to another.  His was mine.

Jewish law gives me one year to mourn

my wave.  I measure it and make it fit.

I’ve been waiting all my life for this to happen.

Ellen Kaufman is the author of House Music (Able Muse Press).  More recent work has appeared in Beloit Poetry JournalEpoch, and The Yale Review, and is forthcoming from Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review. She lives in New York City.

Lucky Penny
Asylum Lake