On the Line at Nottingham Industrial Museum
I’m at the top of a pole with a field telephone around my neck,
the lines are down and the wind is howling in my ears.
Think of all those missed calls, cross wires, unwanted messages:
all ex-communicated, transmitted through satellite.
Back home, classic lines match our curvilinear communication –
a cough, and your sweet dusty voice from a plastic larynx
and then the book: there are surnames altered, new numbers added;
there are names crossed out for good.
My dad always answered with ‘Good’:
‘Good morning’, ‘Good afternoon’, ‘Good evening’
but now when he presses his finger into the hole,
the dial wheels round and slides back
and sparks are cornered
in the cast-iron box anchored to the mine-wall.
When the line loops, the carriage rotates
and the undertaker smiles.