In the Halls

When you first see them,
they ask, “How are you?”

and you are supposed
to say, “Fine,” or “Good,”

or even “Absolutely great.”
And next, they might ask

about your son, or your
mother or your partner

or your dog. It is easier,
here, to say something

more like, “Oh, not so good,”
or, “You know, he’s still

sick,” or, “He lost his job,”
though “Great” would suffice.

There may be no more questions.
You can nod and smile at each other

as you dig in your purse or pocket
and start to walk away,

you can even look over your shoulder
to say something like, “Gee, it’s good

to see you. We should plan
to get together,” and their

appropriate response is,
“Yeah, that’d be great.”

They do not ask about grace,
and how has it started to bloom

in your life, nor do they ask about
your heart, which cracks

by the minute, and reseams, and
cracks. They don’t ask. And you

don’t mention it, either. Instead,
you say, “Hey, you look great,

I mean it.” And you do.


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