Max Wallis’s poem looks at love in the modern age and the ephemeral nature of our digital love letters. Illustrated by Agnese Bicocchi.

We send each other text messages at work. Discuss what we’re having for lunch.
Ether-joined by unlimited messages and pixel screens.
Two minutes after saying goodbye on dates our phones jangle, vibrate,
‘I had a lovely time tonight :)’.
The little xx means more from you. You give me fewer than my mum.
I look and linger at them, there, at the end of your miniature letters.
Save the sweet ones in a folder and read them when down.
‘These are the reasons I love you.’ ‘Do you want to go to the cinema at four?’
‘I’ve never felt this before.’ I smile when I see your name appear.
The lump is a plastic pebble in our pocket heavy with the weight of expectancy.
Linked to everything, almost sentient it throbs with the lives
of so many people a button press away: Facebook, e-mails, Google
and you.
When people are gone: vanished. Ephemeral ghosts that exist
but don’t. That breathe,
but don’t.
The wishing wells in which we shed our coins.
Our thumbs linger over ‘DELETE’ as though they’ll disappear from memory, too.
Punch. Gone. The love letters dead. Think that’ll make us feel better.
When our hearts turn red again, we’ll wish we had the numbers still
to say hello, hi, how do you do.

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