by Eileen Brener

I remember the telephone, a black
stem, deserving its own floor—
halfway down the steps from upstairs,
commanding its own table and chair,
though no one sat while talking;
somber, its operation required two hands:
one for the earpiece, the other squeezing
its mouthbox.  There was a war on:
the question “is this call necessary”
preceded all conversations.
My grandparents seldom called out.

The midnight knell woke us all
We clustered in the hallway
watching grandfather’s slow
progression down the stairs
toward the clamorous sound.


Eileen Brener started writing poetry a few semesters ago in Sarah White’s study group and couldn’t resist responding to the optional prompt given each week for a poem based on our class readings.