john rehg
The Telephone Call, 1974
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

I am ten years old, sitting
on my bed with the Snoopy sheets,
surrounded by my Breyer horses.
My mother is in her room,
sleeping with her eyes open,
a glass of water on the nightstand.
She’s back from the psychiatric ward,
for the second time after another
week’s stay. I don’t know her;
I love her helplessly.
I can hear my father in his office
speaking on his black telephone
to my grandmother who lives
in another state. He calls her
by her first name, says
Please come. Please come.
I don’t know his voice, never heard
him plead before. There is a long
silence, then he hangs up.
Suddenly I feel like I am getting
smaller, becoming tiny, no one’s
girl. I want to ride away
on one of my Breyer horses.
Almost 47 years later, I am still
waiting for my grandmother, for
anyone’s mother, to call me,
tell me                    I’m coming.

PHOTO:  Black Rotary Phone by John Rehg, used by permission.

Cimera at 10

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother’s bouts of depression in the 1970s were met with appalled embarrassment, silence, and misunderstanding by family members and almost everyone else. This had a profound effect on me as a child.  I’ve written a series of poems about the town of Boxborough in Massachusetts where my mom suffered the most—some are in a little collection put out by Origami Poems Project called BOXBOROUGH POEMS. My beloved mother beat depression, with help, and returned to me as she once was although I was fearful for a long time that she would “go back to the hospital.” One person did step in during the bad time in Boxborough—ironically, she had no children of her own and we had only known her three months. Jean Pierozzi was the real estate agent who sold us the big house on Guggins Lane and worked out of the model house down the street. She gave my sister and me sanctuary after school so we didn’t come home to an empty house while my dad was at work (he had colleagues who told him to divorce my crazy mother), she offered us love and mini-donuts, and she became our lifelong family friend. Jean died of leukemia in 2011.

PHOTO: The author at age 10.


Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Published works have appeared in places ranging from the Buddhist Poetry Review to The Ekphrastic Review.  Her micro-chapbook called GO SLOW, LEONARD COHEN was released through the Origami Poems Project. One of her plum poems was pleased to receive a recent Pushcart Prize and another plum was happy to be awarded a Best of the Net nomination. Tricia lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois, in a town called St. Charles, by a river named Fox, with a Poetry Box (also named Fox) in her front yard.