Can I Call You Back?

As a child as a young girl I spent many (many) hours on the telephone. I had a babysitter named Eva Balco, an older Irish woman with no children and a husband named Jake. She could really talk, and I would call her just to listen. Sometimes though I’d talk myself. I love the telephone even now, although I know that telephone calls have gone the way of Sesame Street. Life is lived in short bites. Messages. Cut to the next moment of words. Bruce is one of the few people I know who will still talk on the phone. He is Phone Excellent.

Last night as always
I called Bruce
he is the best telephone
person I know
he nearly
always says
Can I Call You Back
because he is Doing Something.
Last night he was
cutting up zucchini
and I asked him,
I always ask him
why he can’t talk to me
at the same time as he
cuts up his zucchini but
he can’t. He just can’t.
Later, he calls
back to explain What Happened
the Last Few Days
(nothing and everything)
Mike the painter
has landlord problems
red flying squirrel
still eating Bruce’s grapes
and I listen, thinking
how words
are the musical
notes I love.

Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. Your lovely poem reminded me of the ways those kinds of telephone calls saved my life when I was a new mother so many years ago. My best friend and I (we were stay-at-home moms then) would start the day with a phone call; spend the day together with our various kids, chores, errands; then, as we each prepared dinner for our respective crews, we would get back on the phone to continue the conversation. I don’t think I’ve had more than a five minute call lately with anyone besides my sister, to whom I speak every day. Life is different, and less rich, for the change.

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