for Liz Ryan, Luton, U.K.
My friend who worked the nighttime shift for years
would listen hours in the dark, alone
except for desperate people full of fears
whose only hope at midnight was the phone.
They'd call with suicidal thoughts at two,
when shops were closed and villagers asleep,
and flowers on the fence adrift in dew,
to tell of moon-blown problems and to weep.
Sometimes a dire illness told the tale
of suffering and pain in every breath.
Or unrequited love would leave a wake
of tears, to lead the dying into death.
But hers was not to judge or to advise;
It's in the listening that she proved most wise.
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