Phone Of The Wind

by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block
Third Place, May 2022
Judged by M.B. McLatchey

The “phone of the wind”,
as the Otsuchi phone booth is called,
is a leftover relic of the 1960s,

a white phone booth
with its rotary phone.
Sometimes lines of the grieving,

hearts wrecked, queue up to use it.
Where else can you call
a dead loved one?

There’s something acceptable
in Japan about reaching out
to one’s past—parents, child,

a former lover, your voice trembling
over an unconnected line.
“Mom, is that you?”

When Dad lay dying,
unresponsive, his doctors insisted
he didn’t know we were there.

Once he gripped my finger
when I asked Can you hear me?
“A muscular reaction. That’s all.”

a physician assured me.
To her my father would always
remain a missed call.

Sometimes in my hotel room
late at night I wake up
to Otsuchi’s phone, ringing.

I gaze through my bedroom window
half expecting to see
a white shadow on the lawn.

Here in Japan I don’t hesitate
to reach out, to call. “Yes, yes
I miss you, Dad…”

I missed an opportunity
when he lay dying in a sterile room.

I’ll be damned if I’ll miss a chance
to connect with him again.

“Phone of the Wind” successfully deploys the metaphor of a cultural icon – a phone to communicate with deceased loved ones – and thereby crafts closure where closure was missing: a last goodbye for a dying father. The poem provides proof of the healing power of the creative imagination. --M.B. McLatchey