words for wednesday: the library of congress' poetry 180

I used to lie on the floor for hours after
school with the phone cradled between
my shoulder and my ear, a plate of cold
rice to my left, my school books to my right.
Twirling the cord between my fingers
I spoke to friends who recognized the
language of our realm. Throats and lungs
swollen, we talked into the heart of the night,
toying with the idea of hair dye and suicide,
about the boys who didn’t love us, 
who we loved too much, the pang
of the nights. Each sentence was
new territory, like a door someone was
rushing into, the glass shattering
with delirium, with knowledge and fear.
My Mother never complained about the phone bill,
what it cost for her daughter to disappear
behind a door, watching the cord
stretching its muscle away from her.
Perhaps she thought it was the only way
she could reach me, sending me away
to speak in the underworld.
As long as I was speaking
she could put my ear to the tenuous earth
and allow me to listen, to decipher.
And these were the elements of my Mother,
the earthed wire, the burning cable,
as if she flowed into the room with
me to somehow say, Stay where I can reach you,
the dim room, the dark earth. Speak of this
and when you feel removed from it
I will pull the cord and take you
back towards me.

From Waiting for My Clothes, 2004
Bloodaxe Books

Poetry 180 is a Library of Congress program designed to expose high school students to poetry by having one poem read aloud in high schools across the country each school day.  Poems are curated by Billy Collins, former poet laureate of the United States.  
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  1. I love Poetry 180, I often come across amazing ones through Stumble Upon. I didn't know it was a project though .. thanks for sharing. (:

    1. You bet. Call me simple(minded), but I appreciate that the poetry is approachable, and not so esoteric that I just don't 'get it'. Thanks for stopping by, Larissa!

  2. What a wonderful story. love the pics, brought back memories of the vintage phone booth that my Dad built for us kids. I still have it in my garage. Could not part with his handiwork or the memories of hours of keeping that phone line busy.

    1. A vintage phone booth!!!! I want one of those! What great fun that must have been to play in. I've got to check it out. I wouldn't part with it, either! (Happy Birthday, Ladybug!!)


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