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  • Writer's pictureLex Owens

The Phone Works Both Ways, Alexis Rileigh

Edited by Cecilia Innis

Cover art by Raven Tucker, "Reap What You Sow"

I speak to you in hymns,

in ballet shoes and threadbare tutus.

I dance around the topic

until I can’t feel my feet.

I only speak when spoken to;

I’m lost in the other realm tonight.

I turn back the clock another hour

and hope the end of the world comes…

I guess the meteor is otherwise engaged.

I count the fingers on my hands

just to make sure I’ve still got ‘em all.

I wink at myself in the mirror

just to make sure it’s still me.

When I take the stage,

I take you in my heart,

carve out a room in the chamber,

clog up all the ventricles just for you.

I speak to you in two-counts,

in blood, and mangled ballerina toes.

I dance around dizzily

until oblivion swallows me up.

I reach out to you from the

depths of love and symbiosis,

from the fear of loss, light, and tangled limbs.

I made a place for you in my body.

My sole and lone audience,

I tucked you in, gave you a night light,

read you a bedtime story,

and kissed you on your brow.

I’ve always hoped for a standing ovation.

We speak the language of the unsaid,

the language of love unknown,

of reciprocation, emptiness,

and the fullest of silences.

We speak the language of lovers,

of apparent friends.

We speak of boundaries,

then cross them.

We tread where the grass is greener

just to see our own footprints.

We go home and we don’t return.

Artist's Statement:

I am a 20 something non-binary queer virgo femme, thrift fein, part-time poet, and full-time misandrist.

This piece was mainly written as a reflection on my communication styles within my interpersonal relationships (familial, romantic, and platonic). The title is a direct quote from my father, who always has a word of wisdom in his back pocket. He had said this to me in passing after I had accused him of not calling me all week to which he simply answered "The phone works both ways, Alexis Rileigh" (my full name when he's serious). Even though he had used this particular witticism many a time, it resonated with me.

I wrote this piece to explore the physicality of communication (verbal and nonverbal), love languages (whether they be matched or unmatched), and reciprocation between lovers, friends, and family. It's always said that "Communication is key" but no one really talks about how hard it can be to actually say What you feel, When you feel it, exactly How you feel it in the moment. I utilized the metaphor of dancing to describe the interactive nature of conversation and human connection in general.

Edited by Cecilia Innis (she/they) on Instagram @cecilia.innis

Follow Lex Owens (they/them) on Instagram @lexuhpro__

Follow Raven Tucker (she/they) on Instagram @the.shaleese

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