Wednesday Poem

It's Me Speaking

Hello, customer service, it’s me speaking,
yes, how may I help you?
I’m sorry ma’am, I know you’ve waited a long time in the queue
no, I cannot transfer you to my supervisor,
ma’am, protocol talks here, contracts, performance reviews,
bonuses for outstanding human resources,
and on the first of the month a cheque that doesn’t quite cover
the roots of grey hair.
(Ma’am, can’t you hear your baby crying?)

It’s me, a human answering service, speaking to you
twenty-four hours a day seven days a week
we are here, crowded together underground
from sunrise till the soul expires
in a place they call open space, neon-lit,
windowless, with a loo in the corner, a supervisor who listens in
and fines me when I impolitely force
the same package of lies on each person,
ma’am, it doesn’t matter what you say,
(your baby won’t stop crying)
every person has a price and a lie that lights
the way down from above.
How may I help you?

by Yudit Shahar
from It's me talking
Publisher: Babel, Mishkal, Yediot Aharonot and Sifray Hemed,
Tel Aviv, 2009

Translation: 2012, Lauren Gordon