Thursday, September 9, 2010



We are on the seventh floor of our buildings,
across the street from one another.

I see you every day, shoes off, heavily leaning
onto an elbow, hunched over the phone

protectively. Below your office, a health club,
a pool. Early in the day, women

in black suits slip in and out of the teal water,
their hair or caps glossy as sealskin.

To the left, the treadmills, four across. Upper
torsos, pumping arms, horses anxious

in their stalls. Is it nearness or privacy we crave,
neighbor? I watch you, and fill in your

silence: the copy machine spitting out sheets
behind you, the clink of her hand

on the metal ladder as she pulls her body from
the pool, the phone bleating

until you to touch it. Answer it so that a voice
might fill your ear. Answer.


  1. Finely etched physical details enclosing a wonderfully focussed depiction of solitude amongst a crowd. Loved it.

  2. horses anxious in their stalls

    Love this. Yes, it's exactly right.

  3. I hated this. . . and loved it! "Is it nearness or privacy we crave,
    neighbor? I watch you, and fill in your silence:" Apparently this particular line did it's job and pricked my conscience. It can be most uncomfortable to see yourself in someone else's poetry.
    My Best,

  4. I like this a lot. It speaks to the effect we have on one another, even when there seems to be no connection. I love the final line: "Answer it so that a voice
    might fill your ear. Answer."

    Your poem reminds me of a quote I read today: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” — Plato

  5. Excellent. The details are so powerful. The person hunched over, leaning on an elbow. The health club, the feel of cubicles and metal. And I love the irony of the hair or caps that look like sealskin.

    I feel the loneliness of the crowded humanity, and it saddens makes me feel. That is fantastic.

  6. From Therese B. -- This scene is so very poignant, bringing to my mind the Twin Towers, one across from the other -- how people inside those two buildings were just going about their ordinary lives (jobs, exercises, phone calls, writing), not fully realizing how vulnerable life is...

  7. I, too, like this a lot, Hannah.

    I particularly like that you've stripped away -- shoes off, women in swimsuits, others in gymwear; these neighbors are, in a way, exposed and yet we know nothing about them.

    The poem recalled strongly to me, as it did to Therese B., 9/11. "The phone bleating..." Our wanting it to be answered....


  8. this is excellent and makes me think of the neighbours we see across the road. We get on well with some of the people in our building but the people across the road are just strangers whose lives we peer into accidentally most days.

    I like your juxtaposition of the copy machine with the woman pulling herself out of the pool

  9. a heath club

    Heath clubs are rather pleasant! The Bronte sisters and other victorian scribblers did wander out on the heath at times.

    (nice writin' apart from typos)

  10. I have been near horses anxious in their stalls and also in corporate high-rise buildings but never made the connection. Thank you for your poetry Hannah!

  11. "Is it nearness or privacy we crave,

    I like that question, I think it is both.


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