Ona Gritz

The Cold Caller

At eighty my mother
found a new line of work:
interrupting dinners,
waking the night shift,
stopping arguments mid-accusation
with the shrill ring of the phone.
She sold magazine subscriptions
and she was good at it,
racking up sales
like she once racked dishes
in the days she stayed at home.
My mother loved to talk,
loved to listen,
could pull our stories from us.
"How are you?" she would ask
and at the sound of her voice,
we'd tell all.
Still, it surprised us,
our mother the one senior
in that dark office
beside shop clerks and students
who did this on the side.
Her computer blipped
at that searching "hello?"
and she'd go in with her pitch.
In kitchens throughout her county
purses opened inexplicably,
spilling cash like secrets
simply because she asked.

Why Tonight's Not the Night
with apologies to Rod Stewart

Really, he almost had her
with that good long drink,
her kicked off shoes.
Even through the mixed metaphor
when his desire was a fire
somehow at full tide.
But then he suggested
her inhibitions run wild
so they did. Coming
through the window
and the back door,
those wild inhibitions
threw the blinds up,
reconnected the phone,
wrapped the wings
of that breathy french virgin
in a thick terry cloth robe
before running her home.

In Last Night's Bed

we made a third scent,
dark mix of your salt lick,
my fish-full sea.
So now, as I crouch
to pull a book, it wafts
from the joining of my thighs,
takes me from this world
of words and work
to where we clung
in speechless need
like infants, lucky ones,
born to mothers with milk to offer
and willing arms.

Ona Gritz is the author of two children's books, Starfish Summer (HarperCollins, 1998) and Tangerines and Tea (Harry N. Abrams, forthcoming 2004). Her poetry has appeared in Ekphrasis, Moment, The American Voice, Poetry East, Home Planet News, Heresies, the anthology, Which Lilith?, LiteraryMama.com and is forthcoming in Poetica. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. 


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