Switchboard

At home, she adjusted the ends of a pink
hairband so they came over her ears, punched

holes in the lid of a cardboard shoebox
then fixed colored yarn to the ends

of bobby pins, having seen the phone
operator’s switchboard on the first floor

of the City Hall— Her father used to take her
there after school; while he finished up work

in his office, she wandered the halls,
the men and women in suits never minding,

going about their business. The heels
of her black Mary Janes tapped lonely

on linoleum until she stood before the wide
glass windows and she watched as the women

spoke into the mouthpiece, patched
a call from someone on the other side

to any of the offices in the building.
Some waved and smiled in her direction,

never once missing a cue, never once
uncertain: the cords in one hand connecting

to their proper jacks, the hum of barely
audible voices looped into waiting circuits.

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