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Answering Machine | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

My wife’s upset because
I won’t answer the phone
in the middle of the night
even though the phone’s
on my side of the bed.

And I say that’s because after
all these years we both know
whenever the phone rings
in the middle of the night,
someone we know, maybe

someone we love, has
died in an accident or
is lingering in some ER.
That’s why I’d rather
let the message go to

the answering machine
and the two of us
can listen to it there.
It gives me time to stiffen
and my wife time to cry.


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