December 3, 2016

A Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman: "The Phone Always Rings"

Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in numerous magazines including Indiana Voice Journal, Liquid Imagination, The Brooklyn Literary Review, and others. He is a past winner of the literary Grandiva Award in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is the author of 11 books.

The Phone Always Rings

The thick silence covers and shields me from the incessant ringing of the phone, a repetitive sound that shatters my self, forcing me to relive an ancient trauma. I can’t bear the intrusive ringing of the phone. It’s not Poe’s tintinnabulation of the bells. Yet it’s my personal Hell, the relentless ringing of the surreal phone, a phone that transports me to Yesterday, the final year of Mother’s life.

Mother almost dies every week, gasping for breath, crying out for help, shrieking desperate words, choking, collapsing, falling to the cold floor, losing consciousness, suddenly silent and still. Father calls 9-1-1. The ambulance comes and takes Mother away.

The phone always rings, especially after dark. Is it the hospital? Will a disembodied, apocalyptic voice reveal Mother’s death?

Buried in the deep snow of trauma, I travel far away to nowhere where Mother can’t die. Transmogrified into a desert rose, a shrunken tree with fuchsia flowers perched on a cliff, my spirit sits alone, away, above the land and sea. I don’t see the dragon’s blood forest or the enchanting, sprawling sand dunes dancing a celestial dance of metamorphosis, dressed in pristine white, on the other side of nowhere. Nor do I see Mother lying in her coffin.

I’m empty.

I’m blind.

I’m dead inside.

And the phone always rings, especially after dark, perhaps, from the other side, or Yesterday. It seems to ring forever.

(Previously published in Poetica)

© Dr. Mel Waldman

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