(un)natural: Ideas about naturalness in public and political debates about science, technology and medicine
Once, I held friends’ home phone numbers
in my head like songs I’d known all my life.
It’s not the conversations I best remember
but the digits on my tongue as I said the spell
to myself, the different tones when I pressed
each key, a particular music. It was all timing:
get it wrong and you’d be stuck with someone’s
mischievous sibling, pretending to be them, or,
worse yet, a disapproving parent—who wasn’t
really sure you were quite the right type of friend.
Then came the days of sms, and voice gave way
to text, gave way to elevated breath in the wake
of telephone conversations—clumsy, now, since
we fell out of practice. Before the age of digital
natives; a nation of people looking down at screens,
elders say we were beings of speech, the real thing.
But maybe some part of us craves this solitude.
For all I miss the rattle of phone box coin slots,
for all I lament the end of conversation, I knew
all along it was over as soon at it began—given
all these ways we invented for talking to someone
who isn’t there, the way I am talking to you now.