Valentine’s Day

Michael Lavers

Maybe you were right when you said I lack empathy for humanity.
But my new years resolutions can only go so far. My hate for telephones

is less than my love for people. Really. So I told you: people don’t
need to worry—even though their phone calls are completely ignored,

even though they can be sure I’m sitting right beside the phone, watching
it ring, choosing to ignore them, clearly asserting this novel’s importance

over them, it’s not a lack of empathy. And it’s not in humanity. I loathe
empty conversations on very full days. De-solituded Sunday evenings.

That unexpected clank demanding immediate attention: rusty nail to my tire,
bush to my fly cast. (And the answering machine? This black box

slithered straight from the seventh circle.) In five years, when I’m good, when
I answer the phone, and when I’ve even personalized the voice on my answering

machine—then, when I am no longer possessed by moments of gross
insensitivity, (why do your sisters call you every hour?) I’ll have it.

Five years max. But this evening—on the night your brother is home from
the navy, the night after your litter sister gets dumped, the night your big

sister is (still) pregnant—I’m washing my hands before dinner, and you quietly squeeze off your cell phone. And you think I don’t see you do this.