Put Down This Poem and Call Your Mother

It’s only now, four years gone that I see her clearly –
not the mute and creaky shadow of her at the end, breath shallow,
aides holding the phone to her ear as I read meaning
in each hesitation. No, the real her. But I can’t hear her voice

mischievous as she fed raccoons in the backyard oak,
or singing tinkle tinkle little star outside the bathroom door
as Zak, then four, peed. Or asking the obscene phone caller
if he was lonely. I can’t hear her detailing the who-sat-with-who

at the senior home dinners or sightings of long forgotten neighbors
at the mall, her thin fingers twirling the cord we’d never fully cut.
I long to hear her inhale before a laugh, her long sigh,
the busy silence when she searched for topics.

“Hello, it’s me,” I’d say. “Hello, me,” she’d answer,
her blue eyes an amused squint.

Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar, will be coming out in the fall. He won the 2012 and 2015 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He teaches special education in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry.

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