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April 2017, vol 13 no 1

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Ray Rasmussen

How Is It?

I hear her voice from time to time on the answering service—calls directed to our daughter. Like a remembered song, her rhythms and tone mirror the strong words uttered during our divorce proceedings. What's not brought to mind are memories of walking together, of shared meals over talk of children and work, of trips taken together, of love making, of caring for one another while ill. Instead, there's this ducking away from the phone, the need to avoid.

Today, I pick up the receiver thinking the ring was on my line, and hear her voice directly for the first time in two years. She asks for our daughter.

"Not home," I say. "Want me to leave a message?"

"Oh," she says, and after some silence, "My mother has had a fall. It's serious. I wanted her to know."

Silence again ... then, "Sorry to hear that. Why not call back. She'll be in later."

How is it that after 25 years together I have no words to share? How can I have failed even to offer commiseration about her mother with whom I spent so many family meals and holidays—this woman who said at our wedding, "I always wanted a son. Now I have one."

November chill
the family hammock filled
with leaves

Revision of a haibun first published in Moonset 3:1, 2007