Traveling Without a Map

Margaret Hoehn

That night we spent on the thirty-fourth
floor of the Mandarin Hotel—
we had quarreled, painfully,
earlier in the day. And later,
standing by the windows
at dusk, we were remote and polite.
Rain and mist swept in against the glass
while the theaters and shops,
the restaurants and sidewalks, slipped away,
leaving only the lights of the city below.

Stranded in sky, we watched as the traffic
transformed the boulevards into luminous
rivers of scarlet and gold. I saw
how arrival and departure can flow
side by side without touching,
as they leave each other behind.
The way a man and a woman,
who stand in the clouds at night,
can so easily do.

Sometimes, silence is the blanket
that draws two people close,
but that night, it was the vacant space
where an angled rain had begun to fall.
I wondered, what words could
build us a boat, could row us back home?

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