“I Listen to My Friend’s Podfic With My Eyes Closed” by Jerica Taylor

Telling one another stories
is a hobby for us.

You are not reading to me
exclusively. I share you with a plugged-in audience.
With each chapter, I am transported
by the narrative only and nothing more.
At no point do I ever want to put my mouth between your legs
and mimic the way you annunciate a plosive.
Nor do I ever dare imagine what you sound like when you gasp
unpracticed, how you stammer without edits.

In the absence of a dialog tag,
I pretend you and I are in the story together.
That soon you will be asking me to come 
to the bed that floats in between
the fiction and the voice.

I long to be the one who makes you trail off
catching on an em dash, a thought unfinished 
and not just because I’ve written the words.

And we listen in good faith and respectfully
And absolutely no one has pants feelings
About voices
Gone deep and breathy

But on some of those plosives
You feel so close
I can hang on the catches
Of you delivering

someone else’s line 

To you what is a performance of storytelling
Is for me a performance of neutrality

That what for you is a performance
Is for me a flushed-faced fantasy

as your breath goes shallow,

Jerica Taylor (She/they)
Jerica Taylor is a neurodivergent queer cook, birder, and chicken herder. Their work has appeared in Stone of Madness Press, FERAL, perhappened, and Impossible Archetype. She lives with her wife and young daughter in Western Massachusetts. Twitter: @jericatruly.