- The Telemarketer Means to Call Baker About Erectile Dysfunction but, in a Misdial, Winds Up With Simic
Good evening, sir. I am calling you because you asked for more information about our product, Rigida, the natural erectile enhancement . . . I didn't do that. Is this Mr. Baker? I should have asked that right away. So, you're not Mr. Baker? No. Who are you? [Pause] Well, that's not really, you know, important. I know who you are. If you're not Mr. Baker we can just— You live in two rooms from which you've pawned pictures— their shapes ghost your walls, outlines hanging with no weight. How do you—? Your laundry seethes at the door. Glasses fill with spiderwebs. You clutch at your eyes sometimes to remove migraines, to pull them through your brow like tapeworms. Who are you? [End Page 31] Sunny Thursdays, your day off, you pace off the river's bend in the smell of toast and eggs, the fry cook's blind sizzle a shadow scratching your hands. You wonder where your husband walks in the daylight, his face euphoric as a clock. [weeping—glassine tufts of woe] You know the taste of air here, don't you? Sugared with all you lack? Do the signposts long for clean sheets? Do the storm grates cough up sweet rinds? [Sniffle] Stop seeing what I see. Yours is a job for Pilate. Late in life, after the crust of empire has sloughed off, when the oranges fold in on themselves, weighted with gutter frost. Pilate would only call in the wee hours, when doubt and fear avoid one another in the old hotel, splashing their faces with gray water, hands on a chipped sink as they yearn for the other. You have too dim a view of what I do, or the why of it, that sullen story. Tell me someone who has a rosy view, and I'll show you the nail through their foot. Okay, but who's holding the hammer? The phone on my card table. How its legs shake. How the night rots, like food at a wake. When the phone rings, and it is you, [End Page 32] the old men meet in the hall, faces wet with all they'd wash away, and in the echo of ringing, joy creeps under the door.