After a few days
of strange activity,
my cell phone died.
It was three days
before a new one arrived.
Three days
of lost connections
during which my anxiety level
was alarming.
I was anxious
because
the system I use
to communicate
and connect
was lost. Now I am
acutely aware
that I need to be connected
and
that thread of connection
is very thin.
I barely could keep
the panic at bay
when I realized
I couldn’t reach
anyone
by telephone.

Probably it has
always
been this way.
I remember
being the heir to a box of letters
to and from an elderly friend
when she first made her way to Oklahoma
from her family home in Indiana
in the early 1900s. So poignant,
the descriptions of her life
on the prairie—
so far from family, home—
as she established a new home
and family,
community.
The letters came
weeks apart,
months apart. I don’t even want
to imagine the isolation I would feel
in my time
if the connections were that far apart.
In time,
she got to know the neighbors;
in those days,
there were three families within a mile
of her farm house.
In time,
she would have a daughter.
In time,
her husband would die, too soon,
and her daughter
would grow up
and move away.
By the time I met her,
she lived alone on that farm,
tending flowers and vegetables,
warmly welcoming
all visitors
with her craggy voice,
her beautifully-lined face,
her thick arms wide.
I was a young girl
and still remember those visits,
of good humor,
soft, no-nonsense wisdom,
and gentle, warm presence.
She always sent us away
with bouquets of flowers,
jars of pickles
or jelly.
We connected;
thus I, a writer then,
received her box of letters
after she died.

Cell phones,
email,
social messaging
are extremely handy.
They don’t preclude,
at least for me,
face-to-face,
heart-to-heart
connections.
They only make
getting together
easier.
I am grateful
I don’t have to wait
for letters to arrive,
though I love it
when I receive a letter from
the two people I know
who still write letters.

Cell phone-less days
have made me more aware
how fragile
is this connection.
So, I’m using an old-fashioned
address book,
to list everyone’s phone numbers.
And I’m getting an old-fashioned
land line,
just in case.
I know,
there’s that cloud…
But it seems a bit wispy
to me,
and connections
too important.