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the sidewalk cracks in more than three places

By Jackson Small

I ran past your house today. 

You know, the big white one, at the corner on top of the hill? 

Well, I guess you would know, you live there, across from the gas station, 

but not the good one with the restaurant inside, 

the one where the winter parade starts every year, 

and the spot where I noticed you stood to watch the floats seems dignified and vacant, like a silent film, like the one where Charlie Chaplin almost falls off a balcony while roller skating, 

having seared into my memory how incredible it feels to know that someone is watching you barely succeed.

I can’t put more than one eye on it for a second or two, 

in the same way you aren’t supposed to illustrate certain deities in certain religions, out of discomfort and respect, so I look away. 

Your hill is inclined, but not steep, and the swinging of my arms feels more natural than I expected, 

and I find my gate naturally widens, my head naturally nods up and down, and my heart naturally pulses agreeably in my ear. I run fast up your hill, not because I want to get to the top, 

but because I feel like I deserve it; 

I start to sprint faster as I slip by your front door, it’s green, and the paint is chipping, and the black mailbox secured right next to it flaps open and shut in the wind, 

even though the rest of the day is completely silent. 

I count the cracks in the sidewalk while I run; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, 

I look up, and then back down again, and now I have lost count. 

One, two, three, I don’t want to count sidewalk cracks anymore, I want to find your bedroom window; 

there’s probably four or five on the side facing the street, 

so I stare each one down until I find the one that shrinks away in shame. 

Curtains closed, of course. Lights off, of course. TV on, of course. 

I don’t want to wonder what you’re doing in there, but I would like to know;

it would only hurt my own feelings if I imagine you right now, 

seated upright at the end of your bed, immorally, 

thinking about me like I’ve thought about you. 

If only I was in there with you, I would flick the light switch on, and turn the TV off, and sit and remember with you, it would be our secret. 

I’m back on the street, and I’m running and when I am around the corner,

my eyes naturally roll over my shoulder, to gaze at what I might leave behind. 

It really is an eyesore, isn’t it, it’s a shame you keep all the curtains shut; 

I could fix that, but you shouldn’t let me. 

I wish you would come out of your house to run with me, 

I wish you were waiting with your shoes on, and your hand on the doorknob, 

and your nose itching, but I also wish you would stay inside and let me do it,

because I need this more than you do. 

My knee hurts, suddenly, as I run away, and I want to think about you. 

I wish Nora still lived around here.

A Note from the Author-

This piece is about someone who shouldn't be so important to me. It wanted it to capture the idea of having strong feelings for a person who doesn't reciprocate. This piece is very straightforward and honest; I wanted it to feel personal, but not formal, as if you were being interviewed, and didn't have all the time in the word to think of eloquent responses.

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