Isn’t this Linda? he asks.
This is the number I was given, he says.
You can detect his humiliation
emitting a high frequency sound
that, frankly, you’re good at hearing—
like you’re the dog of humiliation.
He repeats the number and repeats her name.
Now you’re an incompetent god
listening to a petition,
and unable to do the smallest thing to relieve
And maybe you think you could cooperate for a second
and say, This is Linda,
and then let him figure it out.
Although, face it, the man keeps
repeating the number,
and you say again, Yes,
that is this number,
until he fully realizes
that she’s stiffed him.
And he knows that you know too.
And a needle of pain vibrates
in his breathing.
The phone doesn’t click
as if the man still hopes
you’re Linda playing a trick
and at any moment will say,
in the strange intimacy that phones project,|
you’ll say: Of course it’s Linda—I just can’t resist teasing you.
As a consequence,
you have to be the first to hang up,
but of course he calls againthinking he misdialed earlier,
and he says, Linda?
and you want to tell the man:
You’ve made more than one mistake.
Dear God, stop bothering me.
Oh, but you won’t say that
because you feel like apologizing for Linda,
but that would be idiotic like
apologizing for Eve.
As if you believed in original sin.
guilt caused enough suffering?
And then the man
on the other end of the line
says again, Linda?
in this sad little bleat,
This isn’t Linda,
but what is your name?
And then he hangs up,
a bit terrified of you.
But that’s all right:
he won’t call again,
and he’s not thinking about Linda;
he’s thinking there’s something
wrong with you,
-- Lee Upton