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Theresa Behnke


Theresa BehnkeUnexpected Reunion

Standing at the gas station, I hear your voice a few pumps away:
like the cicada's summer hum,
and I am struck dumb,
gawking meaningfully in your direction.

Old connection:
still electric-
the static of an impending summer storm,
you feel the shock of my stare and meet it,
nodding slowly with recognition.

My stomach:
reeling, lurching
like swinging freely at the park-
thrilled and terrified simultaneously-
a specter from another time,
in spite of my sober adult life,
in spite of the paths I’ve taken to avoid you.

The stunning brightness of the sun:
a relentless reminder of the two-
who made unlikely choices to be together
during the wrong season,
at stolen times,
for reasons we don't acknowledge in our stilted exchange.

And the world takes no notice of us,
does not stop because my heart has moved into my throat,

Is it forgiveness you look back at me for?
Are you afraid of my ability to say nothing?

While the brown of your eyes burns onto my eyelids,
my muteness resounds-
a roar that makes your musings incoherent,
and I do not run away,
even though I leave.

Finding myself,
I pace unevenly around a lake,
trying to wear you out of my system,
trying to forget what I just remembered.

The only competition for my thoughts
are crickets screaming for my attention,
but I ignore them.

I see the lush green algae strangling the lake:
like us,
dancing carefully around our cars-
each other –
in the afternoon
as if you never threatened me
as if I don't still care for you.

But I am betrayed
by the hives that sprang suddenly on my arms from our meeting,

And, you are not free:

a little yellow bird pretending to hop carelessly from branch to branch,
you are aware of your precarious position,
and you feel the winter of my body language.

So, you fly south,
this moment programmed into your consciousness-

And I try to release you,
and maybe to also release me,

but darkness blocks my path,
and I am forced to walk home,


leaving the lake,

our memories,

and you,

at the gas station.