The Phone Call

He shuffles the papers impatiently on his desk
Downs the last of his afternoon coffee
Scans the ‘to-do’ list for the day
And dials.

A woman answers.
The voice of one who cares no longer for the world
Whose days pass without meaning
Whose life has been consumed by an irrevocable grief. 

A polite conversation at the start.
Courteous ‘how are you’s travel down the line
Each one knowing
That pretences should surely snap.

It is not often
That one talks to the Prime Minister
But it is not often
That one’s son has died.

‘There were 25 spelling mistakes,’
She said.
‘No there weren’t,’
He said.

‘I have your letter of condolence in front of me,’
She said.
‘I’m sorry if you think it is wrong,’
He retorts.

‘Imagine this,’
She said
He waits in silence
Watching time tick by.

You have a son
You feed him, clothe him
Clutch his body next to yours
To feel his heartbeat against your own.

You comfort him when he falls over
Wipe away tears from his beautiful eyes
Send him to school everyday
And ask him how his day has been.

One day he tells you,
‘I’ve decided to join the army’
He stands tall and proud,
No longer a boy, but a man.

You wave him off
Alongside weeping mothers and solemn fathers.
His first tour.
His last tour.

He bled to death.
Foot shot off, hand shot off.
Face reconstructed.
He could have survived, but he bled to death.

‘Tell me, Prime Minister,’
Said she, voice cracking with sorrow.
‘Tell me this.’
‘Should a mother ever have to see her son’s coroners report?’

Lack of resources.
Lack of helicopters.
Lack of equipment.
Lack of support.

‘Please, Prime Minister,’
She said.
‘How many more mothers have to have their sons taken away
Before something is done?’

The conversation came to a close.
He gave a weary sigh.
6.00pm. His work for the day was done.
No doubt the newspapers would be on his case tomorrow.

The End

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