The whispering telephone (of Japan)

 

 

A ‘Messages poem’ – for UK National Poetry Day 7th October 2016

I recently listened to a brilliant and very moving radio documentary on the (ever fantastic) ‘This American Life’ (the link is below) about a Japanese man who has set up a defunct telephone booth, complete with disconnected telephone, in his garden. Because? He wanted to talk with his deceased cousin.

Over the last 5 years, since the tsunami of March 2011, many people have come to use his telephone booth to ‘call up’ their dead loved ones. The programme referred to relates some of the conversations and it is very beautiful if harrowing, to hear them. The second part of the show records the meeting between two, estranged, brothers – both in their 80’s. If you have an hour to spare, this is recommended radio delight!

I guess the programme is all about our need to talk with those we cherish – and yet, all too often, we are unable or unwilling to do so.

So….

The whispering telephone (of Japan)

My cousin left me, drifted away.

A black hearted wave, towering 30 feet and more above

smashed, gorged, demolished

those we love.

The telephone booth rests

goose green in a flowered meadow.

People come.

Brothers, lovers, wives and sons

grandparents, daughters.

families, groups,

sometimes, one by one.

The messages are often short,

seemingly mundane,

occasionally, they could be misconstrued

as curt.

Some are breathless, others weep,

a few try to explain

what was it that

the ink souled deep

stole away – and what now remains?

Messages of love :

” Are you eating well?”

“Come home – I will build you a house.”

“I’m in seventh grade now grandfather.”

“Why did you die?”

“Will this sadness ever stop?”

Calling….

The fingers tremble, hover, hesitate

before the ratcheted dial is turned,

an old fashioned sound

troubles the ether.

There is love here, bravery too.

And, in Japan,

the world over

we talk, we whisper, into lineless depths.

“Please.

Please.

Pick up.”

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Here is the link to ‘This American Life’ http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/widget/widget.min.js