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The Call-BoxStephen Knight
Vol. 25 No. 9 · 8 May 2003

The Call-Box

Stephen Knight

109 words

A queue has formed
outside the box.
The air’s quite warm
so someone takes
a blazer off
and pink magnolia trees
open their arms
to a broken breeze
the lacquered hair
and the one comb-over
à la Bobby Charlton.
Eyes down, all ages
fidget and shift
their weight, rehearsing
beneath a wispy sky.

Prepared to tolerate
the smell of piss
and a crackly line
so they can say
the few last words
they might have said
last week – if only
they had known –
they wait for hours,
rehearsing messages
printed on envelopes
and kept till now
in handbags, wallets
and inside-pockets.
They jingle change.
It isn’t cold.

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