Avriana Allen

What feeling is worse than Zooming alone
with friends who promised to call from home,
but somehow forgot to tell you they were
too busy to tell you they couldn’t be sure

that they’d arrive exactly on time?
You have to admit, it isn’t a crime
to forget to say, or forget to show,
yet in your gut, fears start to grow.
For sitting alone and staring at Zoom
is much worse than sitting alone in your room.

In your room there’s no one to talk, it’s true,
but no expectations are put upon you.
You aren’t forced to awkwardly laugh without sound
and glitches in movement will never be found.
In your room, you’re free to dress as you please.
By yourself, you can sniff, cough or sneeze,
But although in your room you have been content,
Your tolerance for yourself has been spent.
You can’t help but think Zoom isn’t that bad,
especially given the week that you’ve had.

Your hopes are high as you think of the call:
the faces of friends, the sound of them all.
You patiently wait, you quietly sit.

To your rising alarm you will not submit.
Your friends are coming, you know they are,
It’s been half an hour, but they can’t be far.
A click of a mouse, one tap of a key,
and then their name you’ll finally see,
You’ll laugh about the confusion of when:
you thought it was eight, they thought it was ten.

The link is correct; you’ve messaged them twice,
It’s not your fault they’re off their device.
It’s not your fault they’ve forgotten to call,
but that doesn’t help with the pain at all.
For the world is truly a lonely place,
when you’re alone in a virtual space.

When asked about the inspiration for this piece, Avriana said, “I logged into Zoom on April 23. After a few minutes alone, I texted some of the other attendees. Was the meeting still happening? Did I have the time wrong? Finally, half an hour after the start time, a message lit up my screen; there had been a miscommunication. No one was coming. Before I even logged off the call, the words of this poem were tumbling toward my fingertips. I finished the first draft in minutes.”