For months, we communicate only through Facebook: “likes” or – if bold – “loves” in answer to a post. Secret communiqué of a post-modern age. I publish a new selfie, or pithy description of why women enjoy baths. She returns a subtle, but to me conspicuous, thumbs up.
A photo of her and her step-kid pops up in my feed. She smiles redolently. Her red, near flame-blushed hair, blown gently in the breeze. The girl next to her is all but non-descript. I don’t register her dull brown eyes, her braces. This woman is all I see. There’s a brief hesitation, a flutter. I up the ante by clicking “♡”.
How sophomoric these symbols. How iconic. They’ve survived since the days when men colored on caves. There’s something ancient about them, something odorous like the breath of a clan. We smell them and grope towards each other in the dark. They are an artifact, also, of sixth grade: note passed in class. “Do you like me? If so, check this.” Yes or no. A reduction my heart demands.
Walking home from school, back then, I’d hold that note in my pocket, a craven rejection. Or elated, I’d take your number. Plan to meet up later at the Lakeside AMC.
What I want now is conversation. Your aura, your essence so strong, I can taste it through digitalization, through cold, wireless miles. I feel you like an electric current traveling the lines. Here I am 500 miles away, and yet, you’re right here. If only you’d take that extra step and message me … Oh pathetic, modern day compensation.
What I want from you is to step beyond the universe of signs, to hold me, text-bound, connecting bifurcated lands, splitting distance like an acorn hewn in two, like a rip in space-time continuum I can slip inside, like your body.
Or else, just leave me alone. Stop acknowledging my insane observations, my most casual of synthetic musings. That I still dress like a 16-year-old camp counselor. That, on lonely weekend nights, I listen to Aimee Mann. There’s more poetry inside me than 140 characters. There’s a system of burning stars, of subterranean flow. Lust, love, tricked out and bound in words.
I pull you to me and I pull you to me and I attempt to once and for all shake you off.
But I can’t, so I scroll. I touch the screen instead of your inner ear. You post about an after work cocktail hour, and like Baudelaire’s lustful flowers, I burst open. Seeing you in your teal wrap dress, drink in hand, I once again submit. Double down on my phone, and finger over screen, I press down. Wave a hearty, heart-broken hello.