Thursday, October 20, 2022

"A woman talks on the phone": A phrase that made me stumble in a 2004 poem by Adrienne Rich

One image in the scene that Adrienne Rich describes in her poem "Behind the Motel" (in "Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems 2004-2006") made me stumble when I read it the other day: "a woman talks on the phone, looking in the mirror." I wondered for a moment why it didn't say "her phone", and then I realized that I read it that way because I was picturing the woman speaking on a mobile phone rather than what is now called a landline. These days, the possessive pronoun seems more likely to my ear; I would speak of myself as being "on my phone", I think, rather than "on the phone". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 20 October 2022)

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