Woman in Phone Booth
In the interval between
What’s glimpsed and what’s unseen,
Between the hidden and the big reveal,
There’s a kind of ballet. You feel
That everyone’s complicit:
The passersby, the looker and the looked-at, who each elicit
A grin or frown of disapproval.
And at the center of it all
A woman in a phone booth
Like Houdini’s water torture. What’s her truth:
Her face is half-obscured
In shadow; the phone receiver’s covered
By her right hand. Maybe she’s about to say,
Some guy is taking pictures. There’s something in the way
She’s turned to face us,
As if she’s trying to debase us
For our curiosity. Is she aware of our attention?
Her eyes are lowered in discretion
At this private tête-à-tête
That’s playing out in public. And yet
Isn’t this a conversation
With all the other photographs whose passion
Prefers to be anonymous?
What does that say about us?
About the Author
Gary Duehr has taught poetry and writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley University, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2001 he received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Journals in which his poems have appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Chiron Review, Cottonwood, Hawaii Review, Hotel Amerika, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. His books of poetry include In Passing (Grisaille Press, 2011), THE BIG BOOK OF WHY (Cobble Hill Books, 2008), Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999). To view more of their work click below.