Inside the Telephone Cupboard

Winter, 2014–2015 / 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.

Carolyn Smart lives in Sydenham, Ontario. Her fifth collection of poems, Hooked, was published in 2009 by Brick Books. She is the founder of the R.B.C. Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and teaches creative writing at Queen’s University. Her Her next book, Careen, will be published in 2015. Last updated winter, 2014–2015.