I wake to the sound of a snowdrift shed
from the roof like antlers shrugged off by a deer
or like that molting time when birds
stay flightless a while to grow themselves back.
The snap-boom of the slap against the ground.
In the trees outside the snow falls a second time
only when it breaks its first resting place.
Through the walls thin as the kind of lingerie
worn for show a man is listening
to opera, the keening soaks the air but quietly.
It is five a.m. in the winter blue dark. It makes
the sound like something making music with itself,
you know the way crickets rub their wings
to announce their need. As if that loud friction
is a way out of knowing. Once,
I sneezed and the man across the wall
said “bless you” as if to say it was not a violation
of some sacred illusion of separation.
Many nights I hear him call his mother.
Sometimes in the wake between two fits of sleep
I am certain he wants to die.
Still I imagine him across the hall
like something half-made
a form knit around the sound of a voice
blood-filled but somehow boneless
skin soft and thin as membrane
and I know we are the same the way
in dreams you know what something is
even when it looks like something else.