Tell Me You’ll Never See Her Again

Her breath—
the one she’ll remember, word-triggered by his
short, unexpected reply, fewer syllables than she
would’ve liked. No.

That breath—
too loud in the theatre.
Everyone’s necks twist
around like old wood,
eyebrows compacted,
everyone’s tongue
either a question mark
or an exclamation
point.

A breath—
unable to fly,
pushed out of the nest
of her mouth, falling.
His hand, a five-word
consolation left unsaid,
kept to himself.

Unbreathing now,
all eyes. A moment
like a swinging axe.
Lungs waiting,
blood slowing.
She stands, moves
to the aisle, walks,
leaves. Dark in the
theatre, flickering
faces. Dark outside,
trees left naked.

She doesn’t
breathe again
until she can be
sure of where the
air will come from.
And where
it will go.