Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2020  Vol. 19 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Suspicious Activity

Two men move in next door
They don’t meet my eye, don’t smile

In the afternoons they play an audio file
in a foreign language, loud angry voices of men
chanting in unison

The apartment building booms
floorboards vibrate

Placing a glass jar to the wall
I listen to their Skypes

Send more money . . .
We need more money . . .

I don’t understand the context
but it sounds dangerous

At my computer, I type up
a detailed description of my observations
naming the document “Unusual Suspicious Activity”

I add evidence to it every day

In the evenings, I go to the balcony
and take pictures of their lighted window

Ordinary life: cooking
typing on their laptops

Occasionally, they sit on the windowsill, smoking
casting large shadows over the trees below

When they move out after a few months
I feel lost, unoccupied

One day
I find an envelope in my mailbox

In the frame of a lighted window, a woman
cooking at a stove top, or else
staring into the garden

Here she’s undressing, here
with her phone, blue light
over her face

I examine the details: this sliver
of a new moon reflected in a windowpane, that
sparkle of ice in a glass

Back at my computer
I digitize the pictures, add them
to my files, then turn on the lights  

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