Green beetles tick against the lighted windows. The crickets stay. I’m irritable on the phone, feel I’m supposed to entertain you, but I’ve had a stupid day and my only thought is full of complaint. You’re retired, and the delay on the long-distance line causes us to interrupt each other and to say with a harsh edge, “I can’t hear you; I’m sorry.”

It isn’t worth hearing; I’m talking because if I didn’t something would be wrong. “Lock up.” “Get some sleep.” “Where will you be tomorrow?” “There’s a jet going over. Wait.”

We mean it when we way, “Be careful,” and yet it seems now we aren’t meant to talk. Talk is the pool-sweep and renewal notice, or else just a reminder that we’re on the phone. What we tell about ourselves and friends snarls and tightens into a patient, black seed. No one bit reaches us both at once and when we try to share what we’ve found separately, the unbodied meanings mumble and poke.

Trouble is camouflaged and of a prehistoric shape, angular, armored and full of endurance. Each tear is streamlined. The method is passed on in a gesture; this is how to be treated and this is how to treat. If the culprit has a voice, it dipped or soared out of our range before we were born. There’s no place to stop. Let’s get on with it.

He said, “Remember what it is you are afraid of; you aren’t afraid of me.” And I wondered —can’t we just wait on the porch between the certain rooms and the accident on the freeway, late in the rain.?

I mistook my carefulness for honesty. I waited to tell him. Now the porch screen waves on its broken hinge, barely, as the rain falls straight and warm and the last chance has gone on its way through the night in a rush.

“Who is he anyway?” I ask as I turn back. I take it slowly—my bare feet curve down to the floor; my tongue waits, constant as an ocean, against the back of my teeth. I can forget, sometimes, what I need to forget.