Saturday, June 12, 2010

POEMemories - The Old, Red Phone

For quite some time, I have wanted to write a poem about a very early memory of mine: The first phone our family had. I will never forget that clunky, red rotary phone that hung on the wall of our first house. The smooth feel of it; the memory of learning how to use it. It was all so profound to me, I have carried the memory with me for years. I also NEVER forgot our first phone number: 814 336 5864. My father kept that phone number for 40 years or more, until he retired, moved, and eventually passed away in 2004. Here is a poem of mine that attempts to tap into that memory and create the phone as metaphor to make more palpable the sense of foreboding and loss that I, as an adult, would eventually come to know.

The Old, Red Phone

I am four years old
poking one digit in the O hole
of a new, red rotary phone.
of what I do not know,
I dial out
of our very first home
and leave my parents behind;
all alone. There,
where my father shaved
his foamy cloud cheeks
over the old pink sink.
Back then, when my mother
breathed in
the lavender-scented sheets
before she made the beds.
Hello, says my voice
on the other end.
There’s nobody home,
reveals a truth I know.
A tone iced by time
and brittle as bone.
Bitter as a cold wind
that’s kicked in and cut the line.
It drops me. Knocks me
forward by forty years.
I smear the slow empty zero
of what I already know
across the phantom face
of my folk’s old, red phone.

--by Tammy Robacker

1 comment:

Margi Shindler said...

The image of your first phone, yeah.
Mine was black, sat on the 'telephone table' and was heavy enough to break a foot if you dropped it. The old rotary dial.... how impatient we have become since then. thanks Shug, another beaut !