by Nancy Dobson
You snickered about my latest interest,
the Victorian pastime known as table tapping,
where hands knock syllables on wood
and spell out messages from the dead.
I’ve read three books on it so far
but still not summoned my father,
called home before his time,
our last conversation severed.
As a silent wake pulsates across the harbor,
your telescope is poised to reveal a comet,
a quick, bright-edged wink
gliding across the sky sleek as a knife.
With cold hands, I drink Cabernet
while you adjust the telescope.
Strong cherry notes perk the air
when I lift the bottle to my lips.
A ship blasts its somber horn in the harbor,
and I wonder why, of the five human senses,
sound is often the most slippery.
I don’t know if the dead can speak,
but I’m hungry enough to try,
to wait patiently for a thump under the table,
or a tap on the back of my chair,
a cold waft on my neck,
that wraps me into a whispered hope,
and utters one audible word.
If we had a table here to rap knuckles on,
I wonder if you would clasp my hands—
guide them across a dozen light years,
as you carefully monitor my path.
But your gaze is fixed in another direction
as you tip the last swallow of wine
down your empty throat
and hurl the bottle straight into the sea.
My work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Capsule Stories, Madcap Review, and Skyway Journal. My poetry has won several awards, including a prize from the Academy of American Poets. I also contribute to Gold Man Review as an assistant editor.