Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Mustard Phone

Mustard yellow 
telephone of the 
nineteen seventies variety 
keeps its silence in the sunlit hallway 
and further down the way 
where raincoats and hats hang from pegs 
the souls of the dead decide to gather. 
The phone, with a heavy receiver 
sprouts surrealist red cuboids 
and slowly changes colour. 
Quite why, 
these souls having left this life 
sixteen and seven years ago respectively 
choose this particular moment 
to congregate in the hallway 
is not clear. 

Miles away, 
he lies bare chested in bed 
and wonders if he might be 
having a heart attack. 
Not at this precise moment of course. 
There is no pain 
or indications of anything being wrong. 
It’s just that he can imagine all too clearly 
the red muscle pulsing in its slack sack of membrane 
like a light going on and off and pictures how easily 
it would be for something to go wrong with this process. 
He takes another drag on his rollie 
then puts himself in the recovery position which has a calming effect. 
If a heart attack’s coming at least he will be ready for it. 
Who knows? Maybe the whole thing will pass by 
without anyone realising. He forgets about his heart 
and sees the phone, the cuboids bubbling out of the mouthpiece 
like a froth of blood, the ghosts in the hallway
they look like particularly solid lines of dust motes 
that become more apparent or fade depending on the brightness 
of the sun. Ghosts are like busses. You wait for years, 
and when it does finally arrive there are two of them. 
He drifts into the place that precedes sleep 
and listens to the ghosts - he knows all too well who they are, 
and when wakes he finds the entire country gone mad.

© Su Joy

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