Poetry: Working the Crisis Hotline by Dianne Moritz

Working the Crisis Hotline

Down by the river
in cramped quarters, 
telephones ring non-stop.  
Young people, women 
mostly, quickly pick up.
Voices cry out:  Help me!  
I’m too high;  Someone 
followed me;  And… 
then he raped me.
This new recruit, 
sensitive as bruised skin,
calmly tries on comfort:
Stay cool.  Talk to me. 
Breathe, just breathe, she says.
All night long, she cares and 
consoles,  her heart
racing, as perspiration
blurs worn referral cards.
During a brief respite, 
she glances out a dark window, 
watches the roiling water, 
imagines her body 
floating downstream.
At shift’s end she exits, running...running.

Dianne Moritz is a former teacher who now writes poetry, essays, and picture books for children. She has published adult poetry in poetry journals as well as online in the drabble, spillwords, and many other online sites.