The Poems

Inside the Telephone Cupboard

From the Winter, 2014–2015, issue 

(No. 34)

Secrets lived inside and there were coats. It was a cupboard

where you could shut the door and hold the phone, in private.

I would push my face against the coats and breathe, damp winter

air in nylon, wool and gabardine, some camel’s hair. The furs

let me push in. I crouched and listened for the voice of my best

friend. “My nanny’s dead,” I said, and there was silence. Then a

sorrowful small voice said she was sad. I told her what I knew,

that she had died before she went to carol service, half inside

her coat. Headmistress told me that. She told me Nanny was

with Jesus now. I did not say that part. Outside the cupboard

my parents listened in on everything I said. That’s how they knew

I knew. The fur coat took my tears upon its pointy ends and

held them, shining in the dark. I put the phone back on its cradle.

When I came outside it was all done. They never said a word.