that he can’t
walk up the stairs.
He just wonders if he should.
He reflects at the fifth step. She
will be waiting at the table with
two hands holding the tea cup,
as if the cooled porcelain could
still give her warmth, as if his
embrace could, either.
The frayed edges
of his jeans
heavy with the weight
of water while the toe of his boot
pushes the snow back
With seven steps, she’ll see him then.
He’ll be seven hours late—
Seven years of cooled porcelain.
Editor’s Note: At first glance, the visual form of this poem can distract the reader from its meaning. Upon rereading, however, the line breaks reflect the fear inherent within the character’s hesitation. The narrative extends beyond the steps and the tea cup.