Fortified

by Stephanie Cresseler

I reach to touch you,
to let you know I’m here for you,
but the white dormitory cement wall
is too dense for my hand to pass through,
yet so thin I hear like it’s paper.

I hear the handle stretch and door creak,
pressed closed until it clicks.
You climb on top of your ledge of a bed,
the covers, a muted rustle.

My eyelids droop close,
barricading my sense of sight.

But my ears protest,
always working diligently into the night
until the lights inside have dimmed so low
they’re out.

Not yet though because they hear
you sniffle, air huffed and blown out,
as if you repeatedly lose your sneeze,
never fully letting it go.

My mind shrugs and declares,
‘itchy nose’.
But that thought dims,
like the sun when clouds conceal it,
when your throat croaks and whimpers.

My ears tense, drawn by their tips,
opening the chasm like a castle’s drawbridge,
to hear clearly what I do not see.

This isn’t the first time
my ears have heard
the tears leak from your eyes,
and neither do I know why they fall.

But when I see you in the hall
in the morning, eyes dry, cheekbones high,
how do I tell you I’m here for you?

I’ve heard you cry.

 

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Want to know more about Stephanie? Read her bio here.

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