Phone Date

On Sunday—sheets stripped,
bed bare, afternoon edging toward
gold—my sister picks up

on speaker phone. As she feeds
her brand-new daughter—
backdrop all static and shift,

a chorus of coos until, suddenly,
that hush of relief—my own child
emerges with wordless urgency

to show me the split in her fingernail,
pink and soft as a shell
tossed to shore. I take her hand,

try to smooth what is sharp—
cradling the phone
between cheek and shoulder

to catch my sister’s half-formed
sentences, my niece’s chirps
and starts. My daughter

frees her hand, skips away
singing. Light breaks through
the blinds, fills the whole room.

Emily Patterson is the author of So Much Tending Remains (2022) and To Bend and Braid (2023). Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appears or is forthcoming in Rust & Moth, SWWIM Every Day, CALYX, Sweet Lit, West Trade Review, tiny wren lit, The Shore, and elsewhere. Emily holds a B.A. in English from Ohio Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Education from Ohio State University. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio.

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