Rotary Dial

by Deborah Murphy


In the hallway where I spent my childhood

listening for a door to open to the locked world

beyond me, I looked forward


to Sunday afternoons in your house

at the end of the road, where I lifted the heavy

metal receiver of your black phone—


the kind Lucy used to dial

her way into a new life week after week

despite Ricky’s best efforts to keep her


fixed to his sepia-toned ideal—

then slipped the small bone of my finger

in the last slot, both zero and O for operator,


pulled the ring up, felt the satisfying fall back

to the voice on the line, the operator

waiting for the question I didn’t know to ask.



This poem previously appeared in the 2012 issue of Connecticut River Review.


Deborah Murphy’s poetry has appeared in Chrysalis Reader, Connecticut River Review, Concrete Wolf, Smoky Quartz Quarterly, Soundings East, and Flash!point. Holding a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from Tufts University, she lives in Amherst, New Hampshire, where she works as a freelance writer and as a writing instructor.

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