While Waiting in Line to Vote


When I step outside, I’m surprised

to see faces swimming in front

of me, heads tipped

towards the raspy sunlight. I thought

I had forgotten how they looked.

I thought I had forgotten their voices,

prancing and soaring, a symphony

locked into a swelling wave.

The woman ahead of me, a ballerina,

mask pulled over her reddened nose,

feet swaying in sync. She speaks,

and I hear nothing at first,

then everything. Her friend

works with an organization in India.

How the monsoons sweep in

and ripple the cities, carefully,

as if they had rehearsed a routine.

Destruction that trickles down

roads, light-footed,

contagious. What I’m thinking of

is how much color it stripped away.

How much green we’ve swept,

choked up, packed into cupboards

until dust swallows it.

How many faces we’ve unlearned.

Eyes, eyebrows, the bridge of the nose.

Constellations to chart

and pinpoint, to stargaze

in the dark, where nobody seems

to exist. Behind me,

the fountain spits out water,

trembling under the hands

of a small girl. I turn, watch

the two. They seem like

a separate species, fluid,

a stream of pearl

joined by a tiny brown hand.

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