Contacts

The names that scroll across the screen
diminish as they slip from view.
Entered years and passed from list to list,
they mostly live in distances, and stay

undialled. Amongst them are the dead
whose numbers, undeleted, can never
be recalled. What lies below the label
of their names is everything they were

and everything that could have been
if they had stayed. Unthinkable
to take them out, as if they’d never been.
In the end you may be next, or centre of

a lonely game, with you the last to stand.
Then they will be everything you are.
You can impose dementia, delete these keys
that lock/unlock the human in your brain –

but keep the faith with what they were,
and are, in every single, less than perfect, day.
What else when those ahead grow short
and cold as winter, in moonlight falling

behind trees? Why wish them gone,
and lose your time in theirs? Though no next
with them – our only paradisal hope remains
enfolded in the memory of their arms.

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