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BY TIMOTHY KERLIN 4.` ETA The sounds are still the same, the cicada lodged behind a painting, the one flea scraping across the floor, the needle piercing, piercing the cloth, but the space behind everything feels scooped out, missing. But isn’t behind the wrong word? Because it isn’t about space, it’s not the way I’m behind you when I’m behind you, even though you don’t know me. I’d say suffusion, but I’m trying not to frighten you. I’m just living here in this house and I thought I was alone, and I’m telling you I have something to say, but what comes out is glassy, shiny, thick with frost, and out there what was obscured is still obscure, but now it’s blinding RETREATING VOICE Todaynothing, nothing and the communion of leaves. Dust I will not clean accumulates… The wood beneath the finish. What was it you said?About the door, its mysterious OpeningTo hear a retreating voiceand to find oneself In this brittle, brilliant room Silence fills each Of the glass bowls in that open cupboard. MACHETE In the morning a machete in the vacant lot next door, sticking out of the dirt. None of us wanted to be the first to touch it. But we didn’t want the kid who lived behind us to find it either we could hear him shouting at his new puppy to sit, then the smack a rolled-up newspaper. Unless I saw her, I always pictured his mother lying in bed, because my brother told me that she took pills and slept during the day the neighbor kid was supposed to keep quiet. Our own dog was kept tied to a stake, never allowed inside. Our mother never slept late rarely napped. Our father left for a summer. The house remained spotless. The neighbor boy much louder now and each of us thinking hide this weapon soon. TIMOTHY KERLIN lives in Austin, Texas, and teaches first-year English at Texas State University in San Marcos. He is currently at work on his first book of poetry. Naomi Shihab Nye NOVEMBER 28, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19