Gods and fires in bushes and swans are all the same to me

New versions of me and new versions of you meet on the street, two years in the future. It’s a simple collision. I am passing through. You are on your way back from somewhere downtown. I’m heading to a place I’m sleeping, and you’re heading home. I smile and you smile and we stop instead of just passing by. We touch hands, briefly; we can’t explain why. We both think to hug, but we don’t. We could explain why a thousand times, each.

“Are you alright?” I’ll ask carefully.

The answer will be yes or no or I don’t know.

And I’ll say good or I’m sorry or hm.

We won’t touch again and our eyes will cease to meet. One of us will turn away first. And we’ll go on, our lives woven in completely separate patterns, on winds that blow neither this way nor that.

This is what the ageing of loss feels like. I’ll see you in a handful of years again, maybe. And we’ll dance this danse again. Brief, balanced on the edge of remembering, speaking to ghosts of love past. Whispering on our tongues as we wander away, anew:

I hope your life is good.

I had imagined once, foolishly, I’d be the one to see it. You smiling peacefully, so warm and bright like a summer afternoon. But we are never a part of the end of the stories we begin. And so, I no longer imagine foolishly; I only hope.

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