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Phone Calls MAG
Turnpikes of red map themselves on my palms,
The result of blue plastic phone card edges and
The plywood bench is too small, the trembling silence
not small enough.
I'm just a lowly lower camper making her first phone call
home from camp, so unsure which numbers to hit,
which tones to listen for.
There's a ring on the line, tinny as aluminum,
and the phone card highways buried in my too-short lifeline, my too-long heart line,
crackle in pain.
Another faint ring sounds and my
size 2 Skechers shake the plywood planks they rest on.
Her voice silences the tremors.
I can hear it travel across polished cherry wood and echo off red toile wallpaper.
My chest wrenches, and my neck is soaked with tears.
I tell her, I'm fine, of course I am, Mommy.
But she's smarter than that, she can hear that quake on the sound waves,
the fault line forming in my words.
She knows that inside I'm searching, calculating
Some way to be home, with her.
Acrylic paint forms a vermilion second skin over my knuckles,
the result of set-painting and getting
the details right.
Six other girls, silhouetted like crepe-paper puppets, wait anxiously
for me to just finish up, say good-bye.
I shouldn't be too long, I say.
I'm a senior camper now, and I
have friends to be with, a set to paint, fun to have.
The sky is a swollen navy balloon, too large to even fathom,
the picnic table I lie on much too fathomable.
The trilling ring is almost lost in the sea of
shouts and yells and tag-you're-it's, so lost I wonder if
I imagined it. I secretly wish I did.
The rectangle of plastic in my hand coos robotically, but this time
it's his voice, fighting for my ear's attention
over the voices of my relatives.
I shiver in the night's breezy whisper, smile at my father's we-miss-you's,
lines delivered with ease and calm.
But I'm smarter than that; I can hear that quake on the sound waves,
the fault line forming in his words.
I know that inside he's searching, calculating some way
to be here, with me.