Due to a discrepancy,
Verizon—whose name must have originated
as a portmanteau of Horizon and
Vertical? Versatile? Veracity?
—shuts off my mother’s phone
to all numbers but their own.
Now I stand near for support while she sits
at what was once her father’s desk
in her apartment in the retirement home
and asks to speak to a—
the word has gone.
Vermouth? Veranda? Vertebrae?
“Manager,” I prompt, but the
distant voice she eventually receives
has an accent too thick for hearing aids,
and too many small accumulations
of sawdust mark the termite holes in her brain.
She sits there, holding the telephone
like a child with a shell,
hoping to hear the ocean, except
she too is hollow, we’re
The line goes dead.
I stand behind her, mouth filled—
Version Vermin Vernal Verdict
Very Verse Verb Verge
—with any number
of empty bones.