The Black Phone Rings

The classics console, but not enough. —Derek Walcott

I sit in the green overstuffed chair
reading Aristotle and eating ice cream

believing my life is finally sweet
the Ethics just begun for another time

the ice cream still so hard it stuns
the roof of my mouth.
Even sweeter
a call from my daughter in the middle
of the day.
Are you alone?
she asks like one of those seers with the burden
of truth no one believes in Oedipus ,

Antigone, The Trojan Women,
who knows how dreadful knowledge

can be when there’s no help in truth.
The message: my son has been killed.

She has confirmed the death before calling
knowing I am not supposed to believe her.


Kay Murphy
from her book Women Poets: Workshop into Print
In(her)itance Press, 2003

used by permission of the poet

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