“Please Finish the Conversation” by Owen Lewis was selected as a finalist for the Mississippi Review Prize, and will be published in the next issue.

PLEASE FINISH THE CONVERSATION

Welcome to the House of Uninvited Guests.
Want to try to get their attention? Get a word in?
I’m awake most of the time when they leave me

bored-to-death. Try to sleep, come evening
all at once they’re here. How many bells
did you hear? They’re crowding the kitchen

around the little pot of tea. Kettle keeps whistling,
open honey jar a buzzing hive of conversation.
They never finish what they’re saying. This house

gives me a headache. Again the wife who walked.
Who let her in? And Mother instructing the mayor
on how he’s supposed to remember Father.

I should have sat her down long ago, gotten
the whole story. How long could it take? Eight
hours? What’s eight, or three, or eleven? Nurse!

More numbers, green lines jumping the overhead
screen. Who ever gets the whole story, beginning
to end? Give them all the lie-detector test!

“Oh yes, and it’s so good to see you . . .