In an effort to get people to look
into each others eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say “I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.”

When she doesnt respond
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

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