That feeling again today:
standing by the beige phone
some night in ’84:
flipping through the pages
of the high school roster
for a sign, a magic number:
who’s the lucky one tonight?
It’s my call.
Random selection:
the tones of buttons,
a crackle of nerves.
The sound of a greeting;
music to my ears.
Somewhere in another house,
someone’s eating dinner.
Someone finished their homework.
Someone’s practicing guitar
and I interrupted him but he doesn’t mind.
He teaches me the chords
to “Message in a Bottle.”
Voices far away
cut through static.
I want to eat the sounds
of humans being alive.
Are these my friends?
Are you my mother?
All so different
and so alike,
with their stories and shadows,
their secrets and small talk—
and they’re willing to answer
when I call.
They saw the bottles I sent
with their waiting messages, and
this raw searching mess of me
and deemed it worthy of response.
Is this love?
Can hands touch through the ether?
Can I braid all these voices at once
through these jacks and wires,
their live sparks traveling
over poles of wood and glass
into the fiber-optic neurons
of a long-distance call?
Things haven’t changed.
I still wait for connections,
check my notifications. 
I send messages in blue bottles.
Sometimes someone tells me
one washed up on their shore.
Sometimes the phone rings,
and it’s for me.
I run to catch it,
clutching the receiver
like a ball I saved from rolling
off the edge of the world.
© Psyche Marks 2019

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