Hallene's Christmas Call

By Joe Benevento


My wife answered the phone, 
so the surprise of your voice
in my December was disallowed.
And talking to you in a living
room crowded with opened presents,
the noise of four children navigating them,
left little room for anything but small
talk.  What big thing could we say
now decades since I whiffed on the chance
to put up a tree, rainbowed with lights,
annual ornaments, silvered with tinsel,
and you beside me every early winter. 
The more you refuse to neglect me,
like you sometimes did, in the fullness
of your dark-flowered beauty,
the more I'm held to my desire
for the kind of longing a long-settled
sort can hardly even admit to missing.
And I do miss you, Hallene,
without remedy, since even if calls were
more frequent or we really do get together
with our respective families in tow
this summer, there is no way to ornament
loss that can make what might have been
ever be, in the winter of this again
that never was. 


Joe Benevento's poetry, fiction and essays have been published in over 200 different places, including The Southeast Review, U.S.Catholic, The Chattahochee Review, Pearl, Slipstream, Bilingual Review, Karamu and Evansville Review. He has seven books of poetry and fiction to his credit, including a novel, The Odd Squad, which was a finalist for the 2006 John Gardner Fiction Book Award.  Benevento teaches creative writing and literature at Truman State U., where he serves as co-editor of GHLL.

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