I whisper it under my breath like a prayer
as we pass through the front door,
you going in, me coming out,
crowding the threshold
in a game of chicken.
We both have right of way
but neither is willing to yield.
A heart-skipped beat. A bottled misery.
The word ripples from the underground
spring of the diaphragm where a fissure
has opened once again, the trauma
of old love that never heals.
I brace myself for unavoidable contact,
avert the eyes, move through the stiff air
like a cloud wedged between clouds.
Say it, that mantra of the highest order.
I hold my breath as your windbreaker
brushes against my three-quarter length,
my 100 percent wool against your polyester blend.
What more is there to do but go through?
L for loser, double L for lost love.
The Motels had it right,
“Take the L out of lover and it’s over,”
because the body gives up what it no longer needs.
This is how I walk through without looking back.