There, There

Anna calls just after midnight,
my voice still soft with sleep, my head
in dreams. I hear her say to someone
there with her, she can’t wake up.
Then again to me: Hello? Hello?

I rouse myself, hear her story,
she and the friend robbed at gunpoint.
Awake to her fear, her grief, I cannot toss
the easy line, everything will be all right.
In a twist of logic, though, I believe

because this happened to her tonight
she is safe for now,
from a broken heart tomorrow,
bad news at work next week,
accidents waiting to happen
just down the road a piece.

I ask about her car, her keys,
try to keep her talking through
and beyond the shiver in her voice.
Half a country away, I touch my quilt,
struggle to offer some warmth, some comfort.

Oh, honey, I am here.
I am dimly, unhelpfully here.
I hear you
though my next line
lies just beyond my reach.

—Margaret Rozga, Milwaukee, WI