The Call-Box

Stephen Knight

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
dismantling
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.