In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

It’s a Soul Thing

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I think she’s right about that. It’s a soul thing.

She was my best friend in elementary school until teachers and distance separated us. 

I lived in a town that had four junior high schools: north, south, east and west. 

I went South and she East.

But before then, she was a beloved friend, one to laugh with, mostly laughing.

Not much intellectualizing in fifth grade.

But she also bristled at pain and injustice, felt empathy.

Like the time the fourth graders unmercifully tore into the acne-red-faced substitute 

teacher, Mr. Ebert.

They found his weakness, his vulnerability, and dug in. 

They cried and outraged, accused him of something I have forgotten.

And he shook and stammered and reddened until I thought he would burst into flame. 

Until he was fired.

They were vicious. We, my feeling friend and I, were mortified. But no one else seemed to be.

Just us, two angst-ridden misfits–maybe that was just me, though.

The singular, coded, inside jokes and kinetic joy we shared was neural blazing.

The inarticulable closeness–intuited–that we took for granted was the glue, 

what made us seek each other out in our memories, in the halls of high school, and finally on facebook.

And as if 43 years had not passed, we laugh.

The sensation of spun years, like a casino slot’s triple 7’s whizzing past round and round, 

experienced as static motionlessness catches my breath, pricks hyper-notice.

An arm reached, a stretched connection folded across time flattened into special relativity

–the train’s caboose merged with the engine.

Special relating. It’s a soul thing.

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