Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Today Bruce Guernsey of Bethel recalls the phone he once bought for his aging mother, whose experience with it, he writes, was for him both comic and “immensely poignant.”

The Present

By Bruce Guernsey

For her birthday that year

I bought my mother

one of those portable phones,

a new kind you could carry

all over the house

so she wouldn’t be alone

anywhere anymore,

except she can’t remember

where she’s left it

most of the time these days

and hurries in her slippers

from one room to the next

only to hear it ringing

somewhere down the hall

and opens the front door

to no one there

or still on the phone

when she finally finds it

where she never put it,

the house getting bigger

as she gets smaller

but no less busy

than she was before

with us six kids

and my father at work, or war—

this new phone like having us

still around, calling from somewhere,

upstairs or down.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Bruce Guernsey. Reprinted from “From Rain: Poems,” 1970-2010, Ecco Qua Press, 2012, by permission of Bruce Guernsey. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected] or 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.