Odysseus and the Answering Machine
by Robert Wynne

The blinking red light reads 108
and his finger is poised above the button

marked “Play.” Penelope tells him
she has deleted them every day

only to see them count their way back
the following morning. She stopped

answering the phone ages ago.
Odysseus presses the button, begins

writing down every single message,
from charities, insurance salesmen,

credit card companies, bill collectors,
wrong numbers and desperate administrators

of third-party surveys. He calls
each one back, explaining succinctly

why they will never bother his family again.
It’s late when he finishes. He turns off the phone,

takes his wife’s hand and together
they wade into the warm pool

to float on their backs, arms outstretched
and fingers barely touching

as they watch fireflies celebrating
their own tiny constellations

because even light can be satisfied
simply denying the dark.


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