Sara Blake
A New Question
Poem

Only one letter removed
and three added in its place,
but the new question was
now unrecognizable.

The clean “yes” or “no”
that before had suited
well enough as punctuation
had lost their footholds.
Only after could she see
how the subtleties of phrasing
had been a sufficient trammel
to keep the contents of the
real question hidden within
from spilling out,
from breaking the language
that had once felt so reliable
and familiar.

“Are you satisfied?”
she had asked herself
at the end of each day
for more years than
she’d noticed to count.

She heard a woman’s voice
she did not recognize
but tried hard to place—
warm taffy pulled apart
or olive oil poured slowly on a clean plate,
something decadent and rich—
but a sound instead.

“Are you satisfiable?”
Her breathe had let the words hang
in the place where an answer
had once always rushed in
to dam up the empty space.