Listening to your voice message
I wonder what happened to the old dial-up phone
we used to have with its holes big enough to stick
a pen through if you are a child wondering how things work
or, if you are an adult wondering why they don’t.

Listening to my own voice calling for the dog this morning
I didn’t sound like anyone I recognized
with or without a machine.
I called your cell and waited for my pulse to slow
waited, for my voice to slow.

I can tell you how many syllables you can make out of hello
I can tell you how many blood vessels I used to make this call.
I can tell you how the night boys moved through my alley
and broke an old dog’s back.

“Your neighborhood is beautiful” you tell me after hello.
I dial our old house number and imagine the ring
it is making, imagine the cicadas whirring to a stop
the dirt floor in the garage alert underneath
its riding mower, the house waiting to catch
its own breath before giving an answer

Before making sure the night light has come on
before making sure the moon has come out
making the roof completely white and
erasing the day.

Beverly Cartwright lives in Virginia where she works as a health care professional. She has written informally for presentations in the business setting and has recently returned to creative writing in a vain attempt to write something her cat, dog and next-door neighbor will all appreciate. Her work has been published in Oddball Magazine.