November 2, 2023

"Mister Watson: Come Here: I Want to See You"

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
             both underwater.

The line goes dead.
          I stand behind her, mouth filled—

Version Vermin Vernal Verdict
           Very Verse Verb Verge

—with any number
          of empty bones.

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