The phone rings. She is 17,18 years old maybe by the sound of her voice but I can't tell between her sobs. She asks if we have any beds open. There's no room I say apologizing in as many ways as I can while only saying I'm sorry, we're full. I'm a youth counselor at a homeless shelter in Minneapolis and between cooking meals, conducting poetry workshops, and the obvious positions of accounts that there is always a clanging orchestra of phones. Some days I have turned aways as many as 20 teens. Today it's just one but I wonder if she can hear me break.
I close my eyes, pull the phone from my ear. I hold it above me like a showerhead. I can feel the weight on her breath. I let every word slide out. When I was young I poured water into the receiver hoping it would leak onto someone's face 200 miles away. I know just enough about fluids to believe water can move that way. And the first time she calls as I hold it above my head I wonder why her sobs don't drip through the phone.... more »