"Phoning Home" - Melissa Dalton-Bradford

I called to talk with Mom
but Dad was on the other end
and would speak for her.

(The Germans have a word for it: Fürsprecher)

But really,

I’d rather speak right to her, not through you, I joked
—not wanting to be ugly or difficult or to snub him—
so he put us on speaker phone.

Her voice was a formless whimper.

“Can she speak any louder? Or maybe if you
put the phone to her ear—“
”Here!” wanting to be helpful he
stretched the receiver her direction

(The Norwegians have a word for it: Ordfører)

Relaying all my every word (and hers) in his
amplified
supermarket
public announcement system
echo.

But actually,

I don’t want a mole carrying my word (or hers)—

(The French have a word for it: Porte parole)

No intermediary, please, if I could
just speak
if she could
just speak
if she would just be the one on the other end when I call
to talk with Mom.


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