Individual Voices / Natural Forms

Winter, 2006

Brendan Constantine

The Wooden Telephone Hardly Works At All

but we love it like an aunt. It has soothed
a splinter into our wills, feels so right
in the hand, so first & best.

We don't answer it anymore; no one
knows the extension to give it out. If it rings
we count, wonder at our time.

The numbers wore away forest ago, you can
barely hear the tone for the sound of leaves.
We dial out from memory, but only to family.

Today when I said It was so dark here last night...
the dead - under the floor, the house, the trees -
cut in How dark was it?

Shh, I said, I'm trying to talk to uncle Ray.
We know, they creaked, Tell him "Hi." Tell him
to forget his pills & to take long, long walks.

I didn't, of course. If we started taking messages
for the dead, they wouldn't shut up
until our ears dried up, blew away.