For a reason, you leave.
For a reason, they leave.
The space they filled has a sound.
Do not wake with their name in your throat.
Do not repeat it as an instinct as you drift to sleep.
Repeat instead your own.
What is one night good for but a soft regret?
Never just a night, but coffee and sitting with homework strewn between, walks and meals that stretched out into whole afternoons, light touches on forearms and quick kisses on cheeks goodbye. Or at least years of friendship and wry smiles, haunt the stoop, sledding. Or the class and seats too close, notes passed during lecture, walk out the door together.
Always a little gin and a late night, walk me home, won’t you, blush and lean against the doorframe.
All you want is a kiss and someone to sit next to.
Some things are too simple to stay so.
I think of all the rooms I have walked out of, the airplanes boarded, grandparents kissed goodbye. The eyes of strangers on my back as the subway doors close, the vacant stares of taxi drivers halted at the red. How many times have I promised, on my life, I swear, to keep in touch. As the express and the local cross paths in the deep, the child sleeping on a different train. I cannot remember the cashier’s face an hour later. Look up from your table, and the couple in the corner is gone. You don’t know where they went, if they were even there.
Swallow dry, sit alone, coffee slowly cooling as you forget to sip steady, try to dismember some dry article. You will come across words, sentences you seem to remember reading, that you realize are the echo of their names. Syllables reverberate off your ribcage, the dull thrum that crawls to stay in your spine, the static of pain, the ache come home. The echoes crash over each other as you wake. You start to pray for silence.
And then there are the faces that make it all go quiet.
I like it when you’re around, that’s all.
The idea of perhaps,
the touch that will not stay,
and walking home in the cold.
We listen to trains whistle in the night
and do not sigh too much.
Why don’t you stay awhile.
We can wait for the morning
like we said we would.
They stay awhile.
And then, for a reason, they leave.
And for a reason, you let them.
The days slowly fill again, soft miracle.
You fall asleep to your own name.
But the echoes stay, the gentle haunting.
© 2017 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.