Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Monday, May 12, 2008

#7 Who are you?

I see you, stranger with the
cell phone, eyes somewhere else,
perhaps talking with a lover and driving,
the car in front of you moving too slowly, or
in the supermarket, pushing your cart
and talking, talking in that loud intimate tone
that excludes and informs, as you crash
into my grocery cart, eyes blank with surprise:
Who are you?

I see you, dear friend, talking to
anyone at all when they call,
while I wait and pretend I’m floating far away
from this cell phone zone as we barrel along,
a fixed 80 miles an hour on the freeway.

How quickly the cell phone,
like my laptop, becomes an excuse
for not talking at all.

This week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt is the telephone. I remember the sensuous of dialing a telephone number, just four digits, pulling the heavy circle down and letting it ratchet back, sending its signal down through the line. When they added three numbers and dropped the letters from our phone number, we said no one could possibly remember seven digits, let alone ten digits that included the area code. And then I was a teenager with the phone tight against my ear, laying on the floor while babysitting. I met my first boyfriend in a two hour marathon on a black manual dial phone. I learned of my mother’s death by phone. I then called my sister for a conversation filled with long distance silence. Today I call my aunt who suffers from memory lapses. I don’t think she can remember her phone number at all, but she remembers my voice, though a continent separates us. And I’m a fan of Skype, an internet-based phone that lets me memorize the face of my daughter, she whom I haven’t seen face-to-face in nine months and who comes next week to Philadelphia; I’ll track her arrival by cell phone.


  1. Lovely post. You capture well how we can be isolated even when together in a small car and how strangers share private conversations loudly. Congratulations on your publication!

  2. Great poem--sad but true. And I enjoyed reading, and remembering, the post-script you wrote. That 'heavy circle' and the ratcheting back. Wow, it's been a long time--that seems like yesterday when I got in trouble for staying on the phone too long. Now its all about brevity.
    Thanks for sharing and for visiting me.