“Holiday Tale” by Dennis Trudell

Dennis Trudell


A woman has never told her husband
nor anyone else about the love note
she received thirty years ago. It was
unsigned, and after guessing often,
often about who in town sent it, she has
long accepted that she’ll never know.
The note was short, four sentences: “I
love you deeply and expect I always will.
You have a family and so I’ll keep my
distance. Each 4th of July I’ll phone
at 10 a.m. and hang up after one ring,
to let you know it’s still true. If it’s
busy, I’ll ring at 11 & so on.” This
was typed, as was her name and address,
postmarked locally. She and family
were out of town a few times on that
holiday over the years, but on the rest
of them she’d waited for that single
ring, and it came. They moved after a
third child was born—the phone still
rang the next 4th, making her realize
how much she counted on that, wanting
nothing more from him. Their children
left home and had children of their
own. Now she is fifty-six years old
and woke on this 4th of July thinking
about a man no doubt at least that old:
she feels certain it’s a man. She may
have walked past him again this week,
greeted him or not. She isn’t positive
the ring will occur; he could have died
in the past year. Or be dying now.
Yet at 10 a.m. she hears the sound
and doesn’t bother to answer. Smiles
at what she’s decided years ago is
a gift. It will tingle faintly inside
for the rest of the day. Tonight in bed
she will lie awake beside her husband
longer than usual. And will murmur
as always, “Thank you” just once.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015


Dennis Trudell: “I enter writing a potential poem not knowing what it’s about, much less where it’s going. I wait for a beginning line or lines, which usually come but may quickly seem inert. And maybe another false start, or more. Then what may feel opening a possibility I want to follow. Perhaps to an end, discovering en route what I want to say or show. This in longhand; I put it in a folder of first drafts. Later I move them into my computer, consider revisions—generally minor—and decide if I’ve got something I’d want my name behind.”

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