Grief calling
by Barrie Neller


Still grieving after six months, I called her number.
After what seemed an interminable time, she answered.
Not the weary voice I had come to expect, but a bright,
intelligent greeting. It's me, I said. I know she said.
Do they have caller ID there? They have everything here!
You're calling 'cause you spent a weekend in the hospital.
Yes. Doesn't mean you'll come here, you know. I know.
I see you've got some bruises. Yes. They don't know how
to inject diabetics. No. I went to a reading the other night.
Asked Wallace Stevens how he liked your work. He said
you were difficult. You're kidding? He was being ironic.
What's it like? ... What's it like here? It's fine! Dorothy
added Nora to her Round Table. Ran into Julia - she has
the Heavenly Hostess frenchise as she calls it. Glad you had
a memorial gathering for me. Fancy Kriss coming all the way
from Florida. Yes, you are geatly missed. See you read the one
poem you wrote about me. I did. How is Sox? She's fine.
I keep an eye on Madison. She likes it in Long Island.
You must have been pleased with the election results. I was.
I wanted to thank you for being the beneficiary of your
insurance policy. You're welcome - you took care of me.
Will you pay off the car now? Yes. See you got a Mercury.
You should have bought mine. Yes,I know. Stick shift - still
see yourself as Sterling Moss? 'Fraid so. I think it's time you
stop harping on my daughter's indifference. Talking of harps,
your friend Philip Larkin has been interviewing Dave Brubeck.
Can I call again? No,you're only allowed one call. Take care.
Why did you give up on sex? I'm getting too old. Nonsense!
I miss you. I know. I miss you, too. But I'm in good company.
Here's Peter's latest knock knock joke: Knock knock. Who's there?
Godknows. Godknows who? Godknows if I'm letting him in!






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