Close to the surface days

Some days the tears flow easily
Close to the surface days
A song, a turn of phrase, a gesture
And I am weeping

I take deep breaths, turn out my feet
Dip into ballet squats by the bedside
Muscles flexing in time to music
The deep voice of a folk singer tells me
She has heard the voice of God say ‘hold on’
Soon my face runs with more than sweat

A new mother brings her baby to the office
Coos and awwws ‘round the stroller
Her tall, solid husband reaches down
Softly brushes a hat from dark hair
Gently – so gently – this tall, solid man
Touches his daughter’s cheek
I almost lift my hand to my own face
Tears sting the corners of my eyes

I sway on the el, watching an elderly black couple
Dressed for a night out, holding hands
Smiling, nudging, moving their bodies
In the way of long-time partners
Familiar with the other’s rhythms and meter
Reading a thought in the lift of an eyebrow
The way she touches her skirt

I look away, let the tears come
Time is against me
There will be no 50th wedding anniversary
No sheet cakes in a church basement
(My grandparents’ faces in a gold frame)
The math is cold and real
Meet and marry now – and live into my 80s
Prophetic how I never pictured us old together

Some days the tears flow easily
Close to the surface days
But I no longer try very hard
To hold them back