Between WallsRead Another

At midnight last night the sounds
of my neighbor choking back tears.
No muffling cries into a pillow

she just gives herself to sadness.
Was it a movie, a conversation, her cat?
My bed up against the neighbor’s wall;

hers, I assume, up against mine.
The things we do between walls.
So how do I look at my neighbor

through her admirable capacity for grief?
In the hallway she’s a motorcycle jacket
with a woman inside. “Hey, how are ya?” she chirps.

I throw one hand up in salutation,
unlock my door, and collapse safely inside.
Do I let on? Leave a kind but unsigned note?

Or shall I permit her the belief that sorrow is private,
that she’s fortunate to have a place to cry,
fortunate to be unmindful that walls have ears?

— Janee Baugher, Seattle

About the poet
Baugher has had her poetry adapted for the stage and set to music at, most recently, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

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