The Conversation At the End of Conversation

Conversation

The conversation at the end of conversation is a form of poetry.
Con-verse-ation: Poetry spoken in company.

I’m relieved to find poetry here, in part because I’m never sure
when or where it exists elsewhere. How often do we find our metaphors & myths &
one-off wisdoms fruitless as table-piece apples, our disappointment stemming not from knowing that they aren’t real (that we knew from the start), but from feeling that they came so close?

The conversation at the end of conversation is a subset of
conversation: a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between
two or more people who are following rules of etiquette. His sputtering lips join to say
something beginning with an s: sa…sa…sa…sa—
siblings? I offer, knowing that what he means to say is still swallowed
in synapses un-fired and a tongue adrift. Siblings, he nods.
We are very polite.

The conversation at the end of conversation is a form of dance.
Con-vers-ation: To turn about with.
We turn away from the future, because it is like staring at a
blank television screen, and if we look harder, at a groin-tightening
coldness stretching on & on & on.
And we turn away from the past because it is overripe with
longing & regret, chunks of perfect days that could not be eaten whole,
drops of rancor still burning like acid on worn-out gums.
Turn towards, turn away.
Turn towards, turn away.
Turn towards, turn away:
A dance.

In the conversation at the end of conversation I become
a peddler of false etymologies.
C-on-ver-sation: see on to a new version of satiety.
In this life, we had words: your name was
a stage direction conjured for you alone,
a baseline I set out like an impregnable carapace
to keep you safe & mortal. And then the words you used to
name others: mother & brother, exuberance, Illinois, asshole,
ball bearings, brisket, Glenlivet scotch.

The conversation at the end of conversation is
ssssssss-a. sssssss-a.
ssss-a. ssss-a. ssss-a.
sssssssssssssssssssss
.

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