The screen lights up with another notification and then another.
The phone hums the familiar vibrating buzz.
To think that once pigeons roamed as messengers and not pesky city birds,
That news was once awaited and not drivel shoved into rectangular displays.
To think that once we spoke to each other, with no impediment on the stream of jumbles in our heads.
Unsuspecting, unmindful of any perceived threats of appearing to care.
We spoke of companionship, being earnest and projecting exaggerations.
We spoke of how literacy doesn’t translate into education.
We spoke of how it takes too much to be kind in cruel world.
We spoke all of this, under a smog covered sky, on a promenade teeming with pedestrians.
But then, almost as always, we found our differences and they found us.
So we went back to our rectangular displays, the purported extension of our personalities.
The vagaries of our lives translated into watching each other’s lives as spectators,
Absorbing ourselves into the routines that we professed as dictating us and our living.
You call me last Saturday and ask if we should break bread,
I agree almost immediately, immediately regretting about forgetting to pretend nonchalance.
I worry almost immediately, about the disconnect and the prospective, unfamiliar formality.
I worry then about having to have a difficult conversation with tact.
In the late afternoon, in the cab, on my way to the promenade teeming with pedestrians,
All the forecasted scenarios and conversations span out, all alternative explanations and logic are put to use.
I re-mark the boundaries around my heart and re-align my head space,
Knowing fully well that we won’t transgress the unwritten rules –
To speak only of the weather, insolent subordinates, war, peace, justice and the government; and
To not speak of mismatched expectations, unheeded implications of words previously spoken and the resultant disappointment.
[The title of the poem is taken from the song ‘Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ by Leonard Cohen.]