Threshold ~ Theresa D. Smith

 

She follows you everywhere. You’ve heard other people say

 they’ve forgotten a voice, or a face, but right now

 

even the exact quality of her fingers touching your shoulder—

how she might brush your temple with her fingertips—

 

is perfectly vivid. As if a moment ago she stepped onto a train,

and a month from now she’ll step back off again, not even

 

needing to search the station for you, her arms opening wide

as she drops her bag at her feet, the tweed of her jacket royal blue

 

and pulling at her shoulders; half a world richer, her eyes bright

and quick as the sky, or water, and she’ll fold her arms around you

 

and you’ll take that single deep breath you haven’t been able to take.

Her arms around you will crush your waist, a little, and make your ribs

 

fit too tight. You won’t want her to let go. You’ll both keep your backs

to the train as you step away, quick-quick, her jacket and scarf wound

 

tight around her against the cold there was in that half a world,

your eyes fixed only ahead, or on her face, the blush of breathing

 

all through her skin, her slightly startled eyes as she realizes she escaped.

She follows you, pulling her case behind her, buttoning her jacket

 

as she looks around the station—the gray walls and the others,

coming and going, bright and loud but fading in the dark—ascending

 

the steps out of the train station—why ascending? why

are you underground?—and her steps are silent, though 


she’s wearing her blue heels, and your shoulders itch suddenly

with the need to turn around—but she’s right behind you, isn’t she?

 

 Your girl? A moment ago you heard the wheels of her suitcase

clipping up the stairs. Your footsteps echo off the stone walls.

 

Don’t turn around. If you keep going, she’ll follow you. If you forget

the need to see her face. You remember it well enough already, anyway.

 

It’s only when you stop and think—was there green in the blue? were there

freckles along her jaw?—but if you don’t look, she was with you all along:

 

stepping to the top step, her shoe slipping a little on the slick gray floor;

the wheels of her suitcase crossing the threshold; her face, turned skyward.

 

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