“Discovery” by Rhina P. Espaillat
Final Judge: Dana Gioia
Lifting the phone to call, he heard her laugh
on an extension: something had been said,
but what? and who had said it? He was half
tempted not to replace it in its bed
but hold it there by his astounded ear
to hear her laugh again in that old way
he had not heard since -- when? -- some distant year.
But also half afraid what she might say
into some other ear elsewhere. He dropped
the phone into its cradle, and the room
went loudly still, as if his life had stopped
like a stopped clock, as if it were a tomb
haunted by sounds he knew he used to know
but had forgotten missing long ago.