The Long Embrace



Expectant faces lift to a screen
Announcing departures, arrivals,
The collective gaze
Of the lost and found.

Hats worn with hometown identity,
Cities been, teams set,
The blurry-eyed clustered clans
Of fast walkers in purgatory,
Gripping coats in tank tops
Shedding layers, peeling through gates.

Babies slung on hips.
Old men shuffle next to
Old women with bulging bags,
Stuffed with mints, maps, memories,
In various stages of flight.
Faces stretch in anticipation
Stoic determination,
Shaking miniature bottles
Of shampoo and soaps
As they run, run, run.

And in the middle
A simmering blaze of
White knuckled love brews,
The stuttering breath of
Slippery whispers,
Hands tangling in hair
Soaking in the seconds,
Clinging to an hourglass,
A longing to hold the ethereal,
Begging for permanence,
A devil’s deal with time.

Their shoulders round like stuck hangers
In a closet of swaying wires.
He runs his lips along her neck
Sliding words into a sigh,
In the cool alignment,
Ignoring the bile of distance
Filling their lungs:
don’t go
don’t go
don’t go

No notice of the surrounding commotion
Or this perennial witness,
But I have been there before,
Seen the miles 30,000 feet up
Rip me in half.
Watched the tiles farmed in neat
Green and brown squares
of sun-drenched crops
Stretching into a blur of rolled wheat,
The effort taken to thread
Coasts in golden hay,
To pull and gather land,
Tugging at the seams,
Erasing the Midwest,
The valleys and rivers,
The tiresome space of doubt,
The acres of displacement.

But now I wonder if they are
Departing or arriving
Knowing, sometimes,
There is no difference.
One is always behind the other,
As they stay
In a marinated moment,
Hearing the murmur of words
Spoken a million times before
But never the same:

don’t go
don’t go
don’t go

And I feel a thread loosen
In my own sewn heart.
A reflexive and perpetual pull.
A memory of the space
That used to be between us.


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