Still on the Line

What is it about Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman
cued up everyday for months on end, I can’t imagine
a day without longing for its soft mellow whine, in its
essence, a whistle-while-you-work-song, wishing for

vacation, wishing for your work to align you with
another, and the song actually did that, penned by
Jimmy Webb and covered by everyone from The Meters
to REM to Z and J at our wedding, each of them still

on the line, I need you more than want you and
I want you for all time
, yesterday, another storm,
a transformer blew on the line, the whole street
sparked blue, the lineman came to fix it around nine

and was up working into the morning, we peered out
the window, dared one another to go outside and serenade
him, he’s still on the line! we wondered if climate change
has him busier than ever, wondered if he also wonders

how to pay his electric bill each month, despite so much
work, so much love, wondered if he also loves The Rhinestone
Cowboy the way we do, without irony, with a high tolerance
for schmaltz, wondered if he has someone he wants for all

time, and if I listen close enough, I begin to think of strangers
like him as people I know, I begin to think of people I know
as if they were strangers, but not in a sad way, it’s a respectful
distance, full of love and mystery, the way I hope I know

anything, tethered to uncertainty, wanting for all time,
a great wedding song when I come to think of it,
I don’t even remember hearing it at our wedding,
we were sparking blue every which way,

but our friends were still on the line, stoking the fire,
and when I think of it I can hear them now, still on the line,
a whiff of jasmine riding a September evening’s breeze,
right around the time the temperature drops and the asphalt

is relieved of the sun, sends its warmth right back, the way
the guitar line blossoms out of the vocal, still on the line, the way
your love relieves me of my expectations for love, the way
a love song is also a work song, this labor of love, the only way.

Lou Turner is a writer and musician in Nashville, TN. She is an M.F.A. candidate in poetry at Randolph College and the author of Shape Note Singing (2021), her debut chapbook from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. Recent work has appeared in The Continental Review, HAD, EcoTheo, and in OEI’s ‘Aural Poetics’ issue edited by Michael Nardone. Turner’s latest record ‘Microcosmos’ is out now via SPINSTER and its title track is featured on playlists from Pitchfork, NPR, and Uncut Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: