You stole from butterchurns
with the same ease
you steal hearts now,
and even though a hundred gopis
trail your haunting notes
the peacock feather in your hair
wilts from myriad cares.
If I could smooth the blue expanse of your brow,
but I am just a mother with empty hands,
and an ocean
I miss the sound of your flute,
your little arms
around my neck, almost choking me.
Last night I dreamt of your laughing eyes,
you threw a cloudburst
and powdered my hair,
stolen from Radha’s blush.
Come soon, before the sunbeams get jealous.
I watch them dance
and count the days.
You keep a man on the phone for hours,
or it might be minutes but feels like hours
because he threatens to kill himself.
This too intimate connection is terrifying
because his life is in your hands.
The pain in his voice sends a jolt
of adrenaline through your veins. Are you there?
you ask after a long pause. Yes, he grates.
Don’t hang up, you plead,
and search feverishly for the right words,
not realizing how your voice can affect
the listener just by altering its pitch,
pace, volume, or tone.
A voice can soothe and comfort, excite.
It can move you to tears, galvanize,
rouse you to passion, tear you apart.
In the world of music your soprano, contralto,
alto, tenor, baritone, or bass are honed through
long hours of practice, to entertain and delight,
but on the suicide hotline, where someone
on the other end hangs from a ledge,
your voice has the power to pull them back.
Ami Kaye’s poems, reviews, and articles have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Kyoto Journal, The Comstock Review, First Literary Review–East, Kentucky Review, Naugatuck River Review, Tiferet, The Cartier Street Review, Diode, etc. She is the author of What Hands Can Hold (2010) and Flutesongs of Tanjore, forthcoming from Salmon Poetry, and received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and James B. Baker Award. Ami co-edited Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace; Sunrise from Blue Thunder in response to the Japan 2011 disasters; and Collateral Damage, an anthology for disadvantaged children. Ami is the publisher at Glass Lyre Press, and series editor for the Aeolian Harp Anthology.