Unbearable Tautness

you were the first face I saw
eyes crinkled
mouth rounding around thick words
as I un-crumpled myself
and crawled tentatively.

frizzy hair forming halos
sweat drooping down my back as I tried to remember
head back
eyes forward
smile grand and toothy.

that night when everything was blurry and
wonderfully strange
and you
sought me out instead of my ruthless
persistence catching you off guard.

I could feel my face beaming
lifting toward
I wanted to elongate myself to your level
show that I could measure up
that I could match you.

searching for extensions
the black shadows paced on the sidewalk
three floors below
crowded and sweaty
but I didn’t care

I tied a string around your shoulder
and my pinkie
felt you drift further and closer
further and

on the first day of acting class we were asked to
introduce ourselves to each other multiple times
by shaking hands and forcing eye contact.

it is strange to think now of
Strangers palms pressed together
Without the memories
Of lounging
Or 3 AM finding cross streets
Or 21st birthdays and sticky floors
The curves of their faces foreign.

strange also, is
that I saw your face before I saw
any of theirs
and wonder if anything will come of it.

By Claire Hardwick