The Pastor Leaves a Voice Mail

I took the weekend off from National Poetry Month, but here’s a quick one.

You want to talk to the person. It’s why you called,
to wade into their sorrow, gripping your tether.

But the poignant moment is when you call
and hear their voice,
their recorded voice, their before-voice,
before their dear one slumped to the floor,
before the doctor gave that head-tilt look.

It breaks your heart, they are so cheerful,
reciting that banal modern liturgy
on an unassuming Thursday.


11 thoughts on “The Pastor Leaves a Voice Mail

  1. Kally Elliott says:

    Wow. Thanks. I’ve thought this before but couldn’t say it so eloquently.

  2. Jenn Williams Wilson says:

    this is heartbreaking and beautiful
    thanks for sharing it.

  3. Don Brown says:

    Mary Ann – Exactly, you captured the feeling. Another one that hits me hard is when you call to speak with the one experiencing the loss and the message is the voice of the deceased suspended, if you will in this electronic chamber. PEACE

  4. Shelaine says:

    I just had that experience yesterday. I struggle– to leave the message or not. To assure them I’m trying to reach them, at the risk of sounding so generic: “thinking of you” “hoping you’re feeling better” “keeping you in my prayers.” But how personal do I really want to be on VM?

    • MaryAnn says:

      I always leave the message. Sometimes it can take hours for things to calm down enough for them to call me back. In the meantime they know I am holding space for them.

      But yeah, hard not to resort to platitudes. But hey, didn’t they tell us it’s about showing up more than what you say? (i hope)

  5. Sarah says:

    Poignant. Vivid. Well-done.
    thought of you this morning as I was driving to work, listening to WABE and poet/doctor John Stone saying “It makes you look harder at life, knowing there might be a poem there.’
    for the poem he referenced, see
    And keep your eyes and heart open, MAMD.

  6. kathrynzj says:

    Oh my gosh, yes.

    And on a personal note, how I wish I had kept the voicemail my Dad left me when he called my cell phone from downstairs to tell me when I was upstairs that his laundry was at the bottom of the stairs.

  7. sherry says:

    My son’s voice mail message was recorded before his voice changed. It jolts me every time.

  8. Keith Snyder says:

    Non-pastors, too. “That was before the [fill in bad thing], and they’ll never be quite that light again.”

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