Proper Greetings

by Mallory Smith

While shopping in the local department store, I do
not hope to see you at the accessories wall
fingering zirconium and nickel earrings, buttons
made to look like pearls, rose gold watches,
but when I do I am struck with how average
this scene once was. I could size up a whole
store with one walk through, but you wanted to touch
and examine, to make serious thought of it all.
In the after haze of a Christmas rush, the store is
quiet. I observe your head, cocked to inspect a tangle
of necklaces that are the same but for the charms.
Then, you turn to me as if to ask my opinion except
it has been years. There are things that we will never
get the satisfaction of exchanging. More still there is space
between our bodies. And your hair is shorter, and I
have gotten fat. A man on the phone pushes by me.
There are many words that I have practiced at night
to say to you. Words like chlorine to the eyes, burning
and then antiseptic; words like honeysuckle and
loneliness. You see, if I began to talk I would not
stop until someone was on fire or we were leaving
together, both of which I am not yet willing to admit.
Instead, I take my purse out of the cart and turn
away from you again. I mean this to say, I am well.