“I pressed something and you went away,”
I was saying after we got reconnected,
though I hadn’t figured out which button
made that happen. At your end
the rain was over. “Rebecca says
it’s cold,” you said, “but you don’t notice
it’s cold because it’s so humid.”
In the old days it made sense not to talk
for weeks or months. Sometimes we wrote letters,
which doesn’t mean that was a better time
or a richer life. I like knowing the weather
in Boston right now, and what you’re planning
to cook for dinner, and who’s ahead
in the important match. “England just made
a fantastic save,” you explain, as the little
device I’m holding against my ear
keeps getting warmer. Didn’t someone
warn us about cell phones and cancer?
Was that ever cleared up? Where I was
it should have been raining but wasn’t,
and I wish I’d taken that as good luck
and not the kind of moment just before
the next bad thing happens. I tell you
I’ve decided not to read the papers because
I don’t want to know what new advances
the bird flu is making, or how many were killed
yesterday in Baghdad and Kabul. How guilty
should I feel for trying to stay uninformed?
I can hear the game behind your voice,
the pause when something exciting happens.
“That was close,” you say, as if I weren’t
hundreds of miles off, watching the sky
getting hazier and hazier, and wondering
if there isn’t a way to exchange
feeling nervous about everything
for some kind of gratitude.
Lawrence Raab is the author of seven poetry collections, including What We Don’t Know About Each Other, winner of the National Poetry Series, and a finalist for the National Book Award, The Probable World, Visible Signs: New and Selected Poems, and his latest collection, The History of Forgetting, all published by Penguin. He teaches literature and writing at Williams College.