Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

Doorbell Advised

In aisle five they sell wireless doorbells with a
150-foot range — battery life 3 years for chime,
2 years for buttons for your new home, in this
old house, so your husband waits while your
legs take you to the world to get one

It had never before occurred to either of you that you would
need one, the old one rang just fine, for the house,
it wasn’t until ten years into the marriage that his
muscles began failing, and not long after that the glass bell could
no longer be rung with a twist of his wrist that it was advised

Upon your return, your own wrist deftly
maneuvers with a knife the relentless plastic
packaging, freeing the two buttons and the
receiver you hope will save you both from
fear and further incapacitation

You have a dozen choices for chimes:
foghorn, steam engine, church bell,
the buzzer that sounds on a
game show answer
gone wrong

Last time he cried out for you, you were upstairs,
crying into the phone, you didn’t hear him, not at
first, and then you did, and there he was,
down those many stairs and through the kitchen,
straddling the tub, having begun to
fall when he turned from the john, having
caught himself between the legs ten minutes
before, and still unable to get up

You hadn’t known. You hadn’t heard
— his voice having already grown faint

Now when the foghorn blows, you are assured you will
descend, you will right him when he tips, or falls
between the bed and the wall,
again, you will remain his loving sentinel, you will
cradle what remains of all 200 pounds of him,
folded into you the way he has before folded
all three of you into his chest

Until the day he cannot ring

First the depression of the button asking too much, and then
life itself, and the silenced buttons and this
receiver are put away in his drawer, in the
bedside table on his side of now
only your bed

And once you move to where the children will learn to play
again, one button will be placed in the kitchen, and another
next to your new marriage bed, in an again new home, with a
new husband, and you will ring the children instead,
and they will respond in harmony with gleeful anticipation

foghorn, steam engine, church bell, the buzzer that sounds on all
game shows gone wrong — and only you will
bear the difference, and shudder from the ignorance of
just how long these new batteries can

Deirdre Fagan is a widow, newlywed, and mother of two living in Michigan where she teaches and learns from her students at Ferris State University. She writes poetry, stories, and memoir during life’s pauses. Her efforts have been published by Eunoia Review, Mothers Always Write, and Muddy River Poetry Review, among others.

Categories: Poetry

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6 replies

  1. You are awesome Deirdre. I love you so much!

  2. Beautiful and moving. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is a very moving poem… I read it earlier and had to come back to it.

  4. Oh. That felt so heavy on my heart, but you shared. You knew the support from other women (whether friends or strangers) would be instantaneously given and we celebrate that Life does go on. I will look for your other compositions … You have a wonderful gift.

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