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Telephone Repairman | The Walrus


Photo of poet Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin

I found a hammer on the Cat’s Back,
lodged in tall grass, tektite-strewn dirt
oxidizing its claw in summit haze.
There’s a thought, evidence of the
intractable—a figure in faded linen
drifting from pole
to pole, tool box in hand.
I could become a telephone repairman,
rest between jobs by bell ponds
and calving brume, exist only
as interstitial noise.
I could take this hammer and drive it
through a wet-oak memory of itself
or find its owner’s grave and return it
to his earthen fist. I could use this
hammer to hale clouds from ragged
frames, pull them down, down across
bleak signal lights, down beneath
these insufferable wires, down
into unanswerable peat.

Illustration of a hammer on the ground with tall grass growing around it
Illustration by Alex MacAskill

Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin

Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin’s work has appeared in The Malahat Review, Grain, Arc Poetry Magazine, Brick, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry collection, Fire Cider Rain, will be released by Coach House Books in September 2022.

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