Translated from the Polish by Frank L. Vigoda

if you want to call Poland, first call

the time lady in your area to “clear the wires,”
Przylepa taught me this, himself a phone technician
until a few years earlier when we embarked on our budding

careers as berry pickers a.k.a. jordbaer plukkers in Lierbyen.
not that Lierbyen, not that Poland, not that stage
of telephony development. I dial the number, my fingers
slipping towards something simpler, what time is it,

or saying nothing, just listening to the invisible stranger
so that the switches and hooks click
where needed
as needed