Seven hours ago I walked with you in the moonlight. We dallied until only a handful of stars were left: the last vestiges of night. Now the sky is pink and waiting; morning holds its breath.
Seven hours is not enough to make up for all the lost years.
They call me ugly because I am different. They call me dangerous because I am wise.
You begged me for fire. How could I refuse, you with your mother’s blessing and a woman’s smile? I gave what I could.
I would have loved you, my beauty, had you stayed.
Some stories are not meant to be long. A few words scribbled on a napkin. A name. A number.
Some stories are written in the dark, read under neon lights. A few strokes of the pen.
Some stories end before they begin.
The War was over, they said. You said, don’t slam the door. Don’t wake me if I’m dreaming. Don’t raise your voice.
Night after night I matched my breathing to your measured steps. Maybe this time you’d come back to bed.
The War is not over.
I measure your absence in degrees Fahrenheit, in feet of snow, in inches of ice. Come spring, when the world has thawed and the sun has crept into every shadow, I will measure my freedom in lilac blossoms and deep, unfettered breaths.