Six Rings

The phone rings six times.
You rarely answer the landline,
but tonight you pick up.
Static, crackling,
then my thin voice speaks
from a drowning world.

Others tune in, taking advantage
of the opening, crying over me,
wailing against the wall of white
sound, sending messages
for the people they still love,
the ones they left behind.

Tell my husband where to find
the thing I hid, in the cupboard,
top left shelf. Tell my daughter
to be kind. Tell my mother I didn’t
mean it. Tell my lover I didn’t
really mind.

You hear something, but far,
like a ghost with no throat,
like a shadow of words under water.

You never spoke to me, but did you see?
I wanted to tell you something, but something
tied my tongue. This is me, calling.

Imtiaz Dharker

© Imtiaz Dharker, from Luck is the Hook (Bloodaxe Books, 2018)

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