A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Make an imaginary phone call to some person or thing to tell them something you never told them. Write this phone call. Don’t stop. Imagine that person is listening. Could be William Carlos Williams whose plums you ate. Write an imagined response. It could be forgiveness or anger or none of these. Below is a poem of mine that came from this prompt.
I Always Cry when I See Someone Else Cry
I never asked you about your call, dad
and never wanted to return to the Bronx –days and nights all on Hawaii-Japan time.
Mom saved my old zippered green coat
and the two of you insisted I wear it after no winters in my last 3 year stint away in the East.
and you kept telling me “talk louder, louder” and “stop looking so sad” just because you moved to the basement with none of my books.
On your way to work at three you made your way. to your giant truck parked on Tremont Ave–
you looked and didn’t see me in the bedroom
I shared with the 16 year old sister I was trying to protect and send to Sarah Lawrence though she didn’t want any part of that idea.
Yesterday you called at noon weeping, weeping, had just heard a girl was found in an old coat like mine–who took her own life– told my mother
“Sylvia check” –you were sure it was me
tooling around New York with dopey poet friends- who probably left me in a cafe in the Village.
My mother never heard my father cry–no one did and later —you never knew I knew–she told me you had imagined I died and it broke your heart.
“Look in the bedroom and see if she’s there,
or was there last night.” I don’t know why
I appreciated that display of uncontrollable sorrow
on that old phone which you used to answer with “OK! It’s your dime. What do you want?” just to make me shrink a little in my chair.
Rosaly DeMaios Roffman’s many books include I Want To Thank My Eyes (Tebot Bach, 2012).
Copyright 2020 Rosaly DeMaios Roffman