It began as work, as words,
an exchange of ideas
made possible by the blind eye
of technology.

His intelligence conjured an image
that did not correspond
to the one I searched for
and found on the faculty page,
the dark eyes, the long hair,
both so easy to imagine myself lost in—

a beauty so completely his,
he chose to hold his kitten for the photo.

When it was time to meet

months later,
loose ends needing to be tied,
I traveled across the country
with a gut full of butterflies
to share a conference room
on the twenty second floor
with those who would approve
of our creation, and agree
that our minds had coalesced
into something just right.

Afterward, we filed into the large elevator
and as we waited for it to fill, descend,
he silently took my hand
and stepped back into the corner,
making room, making it clear

with such a pained expression

that he felt what I felt
as he pulled me gently
against his height,
a private confession in such a public place—

that first and last time
we would ever meet or touch
before returning to our changed
unchangeable lives.

There isn’t a word in the universe
that could name what we created.
Not a single word that could carry the weight
of that goodbye.

DeMaris Gaunt


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