“The Riddle of the Shrink”

Listen to Nuar Alsadir reading this poem. It is the distress of losing a ticket or any other document granting passage.

When the phone disconnects
just as you were about to be let in

on a secret, you become the letter
that never receives a response, the ball

that rolls under the neighbor’s fence and stays.
The friend you have entrusted with your death

song, an editor, has changed the words.
Now it is you, not your modifiers,

who will dangle, suspended between this world
and the next. The image of the future


is the memory of the dream in which
you are standing before a kiosk, attempting

a transaction with a forgotten code.
The more you talk, the more you are left alone.

At times, you are curious whether or not
someone is in the room, but fear it would be

too revealing to check. At times, you strain
to hear another’s conversation while feigning

involvement in your own. When the subway doors
open and everyone rushes to take a seat,

you are trying to get over to the right lane
in fast traffic. It is like wearing stockings

with a stretched-out waistband under a skirt,
or dreaming that the alarm is about to go off.