by Paul Hooker

A shaft of morning sunlight pierces through
the red Nalgene bottle you left yesterday
and draws a crimson line across the floor
exactly where you stood last night to say

you could press your patience just so far,
had packed your bag of pain and broken trust,
and as soon as you could load the car
were going far beyond the reach of us.

Is this red line a boundary between
safe words and those that, once said, tear
the flimsy veil we use to mask our meaning—
a line that crossed can never be repaired?

Or perhaps the bloodstain we could never
quite erase, a wound to things that matter,
knife thrusts deftly aimed to maim or sever
life from life, dribble hope in spatters

on the rug? Or does it mark the place
love’s corpse collapsed, a chalk line drawn
around the death of gratitude and grace
decaying in the cold-eyed light of dawn?

Chalk marks crumble, dusted by the wind.
Blood dries, browns, goes soon enough to gray.
Lines once crossed may yet be drawn again.
The sun moves on across the arc of day.

© 2017 Paul Hooker