When I Hear
Your Broken Voice

Emma Wynn

for ES

 

1.

 

It was just a small paragraph in the local news—

Pocono High found you out

canceled your concert because you were a lesbian. 

I read it over and over.  So you were not coming

here, but you were out there somewhere.

Someday, I could find you.

 

2.  

 

Why, my father said, are there so many women

at this show?  In your voice, a bird

strong enough to fly south. I think,

I said, they’re here together.

 

3.  

 

My freshman year I cooked breakfast every Saturday

for the co-op.  Cut onions to feed 200,

quick-pickled cucumbers and wrestled dough 

into and out of the kneading machine, its bowl 

tall as my thigh.  Always your voice

in the background golden 

and rich as oil, 

alive with the yeasty smell of bread rising

and rising.

 

4.

 

Yesterday, I heard a woman on the radio

imitating you poorly, each note a wavering ghost

circling without alighting.  It was

you.

 

5. 

 

And you won’t talk about it—the secret

in plain view.  Like your mullet, your plaid,

your slight wife.  I have no right 

to ask you, but I need your honesty again.

Tell me, like you told me before, it will all be fine—

 

to grow old,

for our heads to wobble short-circuited

our nerves betraying us, to weaken

brown and sag.  I can believe it 

if you tell me once more

it is fine

 

her lips against my hair, this body 

that only knows how to keep going

in your echo

Emma Wynn (she/they) received her M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School and teaches Philosophy & Religion and LGBTQ U.S. History. Her poetry has appeared most recently in, Sky Island Journal (which nominated her poem for the Pushcart Prize), West Trade Review, peculiar magazine, Apricity Press, and The Raw Art Review. Her first chapbook, Help Me to Fall, was a winner of the 2019 Moonstone Arts Center chapbook contest.