The Present by Bruce Guernsey

The Present

For her birthday that year
I bought my mother
a new kind of phone,
the kind she could carry
all over the house
so she wouldn’t be alone
anywhere anymore,

except she couldn’t remember
where she’d left it
most of the time those days
and hurried in her slippers
from one room to the next
only to hear it ringing
somewhere down the hall

and opened the front door
to no one there
or still on the phone
when she finally found it
where she never put it,
the house getting bigger
as she got smaller

but no less busy
than she was before
with us six kids
and my father at work, or war—
that new phone like having us
still around, calling from somewhere,
upstairs or down.

by Bruce Guernsey

Editor’s Note: A long sentence and short lines create a sense of urgency and loss that reflect the subject of the narrator’s worry with great effect.

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