Again and Again
The phone rings in the middle of the night
and I let the answering machine get it, the voice crawls out
through the tiny plastic speaker like something
sad and wet. “It’s me,” it gurgles, “I’m here
I’m still waiting, where are you?”
I don’t know who it is so I stand there by the phone, waiting
for the caller to hang up, give up, try the number
of the person they’re trying to reach again, but they don’t.
The coughing, the choking, the gasping continues,
“Where are you? Hello? Hello?”
My daughter comes into the kitchen to stand next to me and asks
“Who is it?” I motion for her to be quiet, as though
the person attached to that horrible voice can hear us talk
as if that person knows we’re standing here, waiting for him or her to go away.
“Why don’t you just answer it?” she asks
before tiptoeing back to her bedroom.
After a while, it’s only breathing, sighing and gasping
like someone’s fallen asleep while holding the phone, but then:
“I’m here, I’m here, where are you? I’m here!”
Finally, the machine hangs up
on its own, having run out of storage space.
The little readout blinks “1” in red over and over
I have one missed call, there is one message on my machine
this one new message and that is all.