★ ★ ★ ★


Empty Hallways

Bone-chilled, I’m desperate
for an entrance, a familiar warmth.
My knuckles fall hollow on the first door:
unremarkable white, frosted
windows. A woman answers
sees the chill on my lips
then leads me by the shoulder to the warmest
room, her oldest son’s childhood
bedroom: a fortress
of high ceilings. Meticulous clutter.
Maps. Photographs. Her fingers cradle a frame:
a younger shape of you, scabbed knees,
that resigned half-smile.

Your mother’s hands tremble as they hover
across the world, this résumé
of your other lives. She imagines
a happiness outside herself, the waterfalls
where she visited you before the leaves fell
where you curated a chromatic landscape
where there was no room for me
in the car. Her eyes glisten as she fancies
the way the train tracks shine
in lake-effect snow by your apartment.

Do you remember seeking shelter
in the driver’s seat, snow-capped?
My memory dissipates with the redness leaving
your face when you took the wheel. Navigator,
explorer, mapmaker, refusing to reach
across the emptiness, dead
zones between us. Deadbolts, oceans, empty
hallways. I look at these old things and wonder

what made you this way. From your fingers
across the wheel, this story evaporates, unmapped:
steam fog over Seneca Lake. What kind of love
Did you imagine? A room with only you in it.

Charlotte Cutter lives and works in Boston. She has spent most of her career supporting the arts from the figurative backstage. A self-proclaimed language nerd, she extends her interest beyond poetry into foreign languages and speaks French fluently. 


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