Etude for this Dorian Weather
Cal Freeman

Marggie handed over the phone, and when
I placed it to my ear, I was speaking with Marggie
who did not seem to be herself. Though there had
always existed two Marggies, they are not as distinct
as this version of her voice with none of the requisite meanness
for this to be my old friend led me to believe.
Did I ever tell you about Marggie’s voice
after her father died? How it didn’t break
but grew both more soporific and shrill
by a fraction of a decibel, which makes sense
since her father was not a particularly tender man.
They tell a story of him pitting an oak desktop
with an ax after a land deal had gone south.
Once when he was very old and could no longer,
apparently, be blamed for such violence, he blackened her mother’s eye.
Though occasionally if one of us were riding a horse
in the pasture behind the barn, he might say,
“Making memories,” or, “No place in the world
I’d rather be.” It was as if a piece of her
father’s Midwestern accent had lodged
itself in her pharynx. We haven’t spoken much since his death.
But who was Marggie all along? I ask myself.
National Sidesaddle Champion, Reserve
National Reining Champion. I cringed
when she offered me her voice. Something impending
in each of Marggie’s voices, nothing cataclysmic
but her voice was like a horse whose ears begin to pin
themselves back from the facing wind, or a wind lopping
the upper branches of an ageing sycamore
(her voice was not like the summer night
the gelding Thistle died and we circled the racetrack
crying, though it evoked that night), a barn owl
on a high beam beneath a corrugated roof,
a Doric Scale on the baby grand her father
used to play with its enigmatic major note.

Cal Freeman’s writing has appeared in many journals, including The Journal, Commonweal, Birmingham Poetry Review, New Ohio Review, and RHINO. He is the recipient of the Howard P. Walsh Awad for Literature, The Ariel Poetry Prize, and The Devine Poetry Fellowship. His first book of poems, Brother of Leaving, was published by Marick Press. His chapbook, Heard Among the Windbreak, has just come out with Eyewear Publishing.