Ross White | Poetry

Love, each time I drag a finger
to accept your call,

I clench my chest, my breath
shortens, because I am certain

you have discovered the secret of me,
which has now lived half a lifetime

as a boulder in my throat,
I am certain you are calling

to cancel me like an unwanted
subscription to Better Homes

and Gardens until I hear
in your upturned voice the love

our minister called unconditional,
but when or if we are honest

we all have conditions.
I have been a fugitive

from my own conscience so long
I forget some days what I’ve hidden.

So when the mug shot of another man,
snapped after police cuffed

and dragged him
from his mother’s apartment,

ran side by side in the news
with the grainy black-and-white

of a much younger man,
confession spilled out of me.

But I only spoke it
to the television—which showed

ash-colored grief in eyes
grown old waiting for justice

that did not come
and did not come

and then splintered the door—
I spoke it aloud, but not in earshot,

though one day it will slip from me,
perhaps uttered in my sleep

or under the gauze of anesthesia,
and I will be lugged off

to a gulag I spent half
a lifetime constructing,

where in my cell I wish only
to return within your walls.