RIFKAH GOLDBERG
'PHONE CALL FROM LEBANON

Nine-thirty on Tuesday night
"Mummy are you all right?"
"How are you?" "It is snowing."
"Are you warm enough?"
"Will you be home on Thursday?"

Something of the coldness of the snow
Seeped into that conversation
Could not help recalling
His uncalled for attack on me
When he was last at home

I did not feel the right degree of happiness
My home was not showy enough
I was not the success his father was
Remarried in a record time
Of less than nine months

Did you so quickly forget
How cruel your father was to you?
How he deprived you of money and love
How I held on to you by the skin of my teeth
To keep you in the "family"?

Half an hour later
I realized why my son had called
Helicopter accident in the north
Seventy-three young soldiers
On their way to Lebanon, dead

I was never more grateful
At the words I had not spoken
From the home scarred not by war
To my son far away on the other end of a 'phone line
With whom, on that frozen night, I had held my peace

1997