873-8480 you were an awful lot of eights on a rotary phone. 873-8480 I recite you over and over as if you were a chant, a mantra, or a line from the movie Rain Man.
873-8480 I dialed you my whole boyhood to talk to my Grandma Ruth. I loved talking to my Grandma Ruth. 873-8480 restore my heart, deliver me, heal me, save me.
873-8480 you are the only number I still remember in the new world of forgotten phone numbers. 873-8480 you lived on the truck route corner, the clatter and grind of jake-brakes vibrating the roof of the double-wide trailer home, moving the blades of the Dutch windmill pumphouse half a degree clockwise.
873-8480 the covered porch where she taught me how to shoot pool, played the old 45’s, had a martini and talked about Paul Newman. 873-8480 the carport with her little yellow Porsche near her garden with the climbing string beans.
873-8480 the carved wood shapes of naked girls set into cupboard doors in the bathroom, made for her by a retired Army man, an ex-boyfriend who lived in an RV, Carl I think his name was.
873-8480 do you remember how she always kept Neapolitan ice cream in the freezer? It explains her way of being in the world, how she lived: “a little bit of everything, kiddo”.
873-8480 she called the couch a Davenport. She read me Dr. Seuss. She ate liverwurst sandwiches with mustard and sliced raw red onion. She called Richard Dawson the kissing bandit, wished bankruptcy on Wheel of Fortune contestants when they got greedy, called me on my birthday to tell me she had decided to commit assisted suicide through the Death With Dignity Act.
873-8480 hand me that box of tissue I can’t take it I’m vulnerable my heart might give out. You’re just a seven-number combination key on a lock-box in my memory bank.