I am the stranger beside you.
Forgive me. My clothes scatter dust.
Who can blame an infant for hunger
or a dying man for thirst?
I am the stranger who leaves hollow markings
on your pillows, who does not have sense enough
to wipe his shoes at the door of your house,
who peers too long into windows.
Someone should teach me the way things are.
I am the stranger who drives us from home
to the gravel-pitted byway,
where the density of an unbearable sky
presses us forward,
urges us on,
pushes us past road signs
whose characters we cannot read
and where is direction then?
What will tether us to a world
which no longer recognizes our form?
Yesterday I saw the way you lifted your glass.
The liquid rushed to meet you.
Your lips knew perfectly what to do.
They parted; the tongue slipped forward,
pressed itself against the cool rim.
I watched the small tremble of your throat
as you swallowed, the way your mouth
curved afterwards, a shy or lazy moon.
And you did not need to speak.
It was a rare and beautiful thing.
B. Lynne Zika is a poet, essayist, photographer, and fiction writer currently living in Los Angeles. Her books The Strange Case of Eddy Whitfield, The Longing, and Letters to Sappho: Putting Out the Fire are available on Amazon and through other booksellers. In addition to editing poetry and nonfiction, she worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She has received awards in short fiction, poetry, and photography. Her father, Yewell C. Lybrand, Jr., was a writer himself. Before his death at 36, he bequeathed her this wisdom and mission for a lifetime: Make every word count.