Poetry

Norms

He held the umbrella up with his left hand, attempting
to steady the small rod against the occasional wind.
Green and red and neon dripped down the crowded
streets that were parking lots, down every endless wall.

His shoes were soaked. The whole of his right side
clung to his skin with the cold wet. A man called out
to them from somewhere nearby but was lost amongst
idling engines and the usual commotion of sleeplessness.

The walk seemed much farther than it had before. When
the streets grew quieter he waved into the passing beams
until a car slowed at the curb. He opened the back door for her
and gave her his hand before retracting the umbrella to sit.

Streetlights retreated in the rear window as he looked to her
in the shadowy cab—her eyes closed. The flickering lights
skipped across her face, one after the next, and leapt into their
places behind them. He dug in his watery pocket for some

bills and coins. When they had stopped he gently woke her
and slid onto the pavement to open the black umbrella. She
stepped beneath the tapping tarpaulin and they drifted through
the fog until they reached the stoop. He gave her his hand as

they carefully ascended the steps. When they reached the door
he searched himself for the key, and pulling it from his damp
pocket it slipped and clinked onto the dark cement floor. She
snickered and took the umbrella as he bent to pick it up. He
opened the door and gently motioned her inside.

Peering out down the empty sidewalks he shook out the
umbrella, then turned to feel if her coat was still dry. He listened
as the sound of her heels echoed into the hall and off into a distant
room, until there was only the steady drizzle of rain—apart from
his squishy shoes.

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