Eben E. B. Bein

Missed Calls


I let you go to voicemail, then listen.

You say you got two from me
at 10:58, according to your call log. 

There is no record of this
in my recents.

Then, you ask me to consider
what I will regret

twenty years from now
when you are dead

about the ways I’ve treated you.


You used to have a phone phone
with a proper receiver on your night table. 

I learned the word beige when 
you pointed at it. You taught me beige.

The boxy plastic was beige but grimy, 
especially around the slit where you were 

supposed to put the phone’s number.
As if the caller could read it.

Stupid. No wonder
you left it blank.


Do you remember that time
my Sophomore year I called you

every single day for 28 days?


We haven’t spoken in months.

Now, my voice sounds different to you—
like every coworker, brother, mother, 

husband, child who thrashed you 
with words.

Nothing I can say.
So, I don’t pick up anymore.

You think that proves you right.


Instead of butt dial
I once heard you call it a heart dial.

I liked that.


It is quiet here on my new couch
in my new apartment that you haven’t visited.

My new husband is out running a chore. 
It’s one o’clock. The bell tower strikes 

eight times anyway. 
I wish some version of you were here.

I consider the Do Not Disturb button—
its crescent moon.


I was eight when it finally broke.
It would only ring a little if you shook it.

Is there a real bell in here, Mama, I asked. 
Hm. Let’s take it apart and see, you said

Smiling, I drew pliers from the little tool box 
you got me, wedged a screwdriver 

into the seam. Beige distorted 
to fragile white, then snapped.

Thīs mèssàge wíll bé sàved. Fór?
Twēntȳ. Òne. Yèars.


The log showing nothing
means nothing.

I have never stopped calling

at times that do
and do not end with eight.

Every organ turned to bells—
you can hear them if you shake me,

each tiny hammer tapping
the button under “Mom”

with the outline of a receiver on it.

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Eben E. B. Bein (he/they) is a high-school-biology-teacher-turned-climate-justice-educator at the nonprofit Our Climate. He was a 2022 Fellow for the “WritingXWriters Workshop,” winner of the 2022 Writers Rising Up “Winter Variations” poetry contest, and has published with Fugue Literary, New Ohio Review, Columbia Review, and the like. Their first chapbook, Character Flaws, is forthcoming from Fauxmoir lit and they are currently completing their first full collection, From the top of the sky, about parent-child estrangement, healing, and love. He lives on Pawtucket land (Cambridge, MA) with some ivy plants that are not dead because his husband remembers to water them. FB/T/IG @beinology