The Long Lines Between Us


Abra walks with me to work
her pink flip-flops flapping the sidewalk
all the way to the cafe,  where she
sits on the tall red chair
huddled behind a swimming pool
of hot chocolate, and cuts out
photos from her magazines
to go with the letters at the top
of the worksheet: M and N and O.

Across from her
in my own red chair
I work with words to help a family
tell the story of their daughter, how she
pulled her hair out by its roots
strand by strand
how she cut long lines in her pale arms
with a broken tape case
how she poured her old pills
into a mason jar
where it stratified, a rainbow
of sand art, documenting everything
that didn’t work.

Abra draws long lines on her
paper, a rainbow of colors
and somehow gets hot chocolate on
her forehead, a dark mark on her
pale skin. We laugh, and I wipe
it off, and we watch the traffic go by below us
on Prince Street. Then, as Abra sits across
from me reading The Moffats,

I spill the words, the story of this tired
young girl, twenty years ago, who wrote her last
journal entry, explained how she would not
make it through October
how the pain was world-heavy
how she planned on walking into the water.

She was a little girl, once.

Life with my Abra is August, and it is hot.
Nothing like that October when the girl
walked into the water, nothing like that.
October has smooth breezes and rainbow leaves.
August shadows are dim and uncertain,  like
underwater lines – October shadows are long and

The cafe windows are clouded with dust. There
is no clear view of the sky.

Abra and I walk home along the lines of traffic,
past cars idling,
waiting for the light to turn,
waiting in the August heat. We walk Prince Street, and
I hold her hand the entire way.

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