we used to write love letters

the mother cradles her infant,
a tapered cocoon in the crook
of her left arm, from the white blanket,
a lick of crow black hair floats up—
dark down, feathered fingers towards
a distracted frown.
she does not look down into the pink
rosebud of her daughter’s upturned face,
the glinting grey pebbles of her eyes,
the unfurling petal mouth burbling words.
the mother’s gaze is redshifted
to the right, curled around her cellphone.

a young woman in a summer dress
looks down into the glowing face of
her lover whose words glide up
to meet her eyes and not the curve
of her pale, seashell ear, jutting
from the wave of sandy hair tucked
behind it, because—he is not there.
he does not brush the hair from her forehead
or run the back of his fingers over
the rouged and freckled apple of her cheek.
the girl’s gaze is blueshifted to the ping
and vibration of messages.
thumb and forefinger constructed words
pinch and pull, washing over her
160 characters at a time.

droves of morning commuters walk
in disconnected staccato towards mass-transit.
a perfect cross-section of humanity
with their ears plugged and their heads down
flick-scrolling through endless image and word
a repetitive, digital sign-language that communicates
“I’m busy.” “This is important.” “Please, don’t.”
by avoiding eye-contact we silence
the invitation to conversation,
by blocking out sound we disinvite
the synchronous voice of the universe
trying to deliver the messages
that direct our course.

we have Facebook, without live faces or books.
we have Twitter without the benefit of birdsong.
we have OKCupid, a snarky, over-fed winged boy
in a nappie with mediocre aim and “me too” metrics
to find our match made in hypertext.
we used to follow the moon, and now,
we allow the pale glow of a monitor
to cast a paltry love spell over our very short,
strange, digitally harvested lives.

we spend our time cloud-tending with our devices,
our screens become our eyes,
when we used to lay on our backs in the grass
and watch the clouds make untame faces,
the breeze pulling the tufts into different animal shapes.

we catalog moments in clicks and forget to inhabit now.
they told us it was the digital age, we could relax.
so we slowly forget how to use numbers, how to work with our hands,
simplify — we use our fingers and thumbs.
texting thumbs, like thumbs, likelikelike,
we like everything with our thumbs.
tap tap tap. · · · – – – · · · morose code. i like.

we used to break bread,
now we share our meals
with pictures
we feed the feed,
even when we feed
and are never fed.

our phones used to be bells
our photos used to be paper
our paper used to have words
and we used to spin each other
the way our music moved
in dark and dazzling circular grooves
only a needle could interpret.
we used to mend our clothes with needles.
and we used to pick up the phone
and the pen to mend ourselves
and our friends.

we used to take our time,
try to know each other better.

we used to write love letters.

"we used to write love letters" turned wire by Spenser Little

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