8:23 Meeting

Sita stands on a darkened street corner
Running the rubber sole of her shoe
Over the broken teeth of a crumbled curb.
The rain that fell today stopped
As dusk thickened into night.

She waits every evening, chin tilted up
Watching the bridge, waiting for the train.
A rushing strand of bright rectangles
And a cacophony of people moving toward destinations
She could not imagine, spreading like a bright web through the night city.

Good at math and language arts. Sixteen. With three brothers and a little sister.
Her mother’s husband stared like the purple flowers
On the kitchen wallpaper, virulent behind
Years of scrubbing and loneliness.

She did her homework in a bus station
Or in the back of Dan’s Liquor Store
Which sold eggs and bread and milk, too.
Dan, who’d known her all her life.
And knew what she was running from.

She looked up and waited for the train.
Spinning out the moments until she had to go home.
Matthew, slouched beneath the mountain
Of an office cubicle and a living cubicle called a
Studio apartment–spinning out the moments in between.

The only freedom he felt in a day
When his eyes could relax and focus on things
Distant and diffuse. The freedom of a future yet unmade.
Just then, crossing over the bridge, he looked down,
Saw her standing on a crumbling curb.

A split second, tilted chin, dark eyes,
In a pool of reflected streetlight.
She was angelic, her hands full of the fabric of longing.
Then she was gone and he was alone again
A sardine in a box of light, his destination fixed.

For a brief moment two destinies met
And another corridor of uncertainty opened out
Branching away from the known, the fixed.
A taste of two freedoms, honey and spice,
Fading until even the sound was gone, swallowed by the night.

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