If Home Is Where the Heart Is, I Live in Your Chest

By Maddie Sokoloski

We started on the right foot,
the right height,
the same height.
But where growth spurts
slammed into you,
they stumbled into me with
arms that settled on my
shoulders like weights.
You grew up
while I grew older
and we both grew out
and left.
You left. I left.
We didn’t think about
what we left.
We kept right on walking,
parallel. We never went far.

And now, from afar,
I see you’ve started running
faster than me.
Soon you’ll have one foot
out the door, one foot
in the grave. Both feet
lifting off the floor onto tiptoes
as I wrap my arms around you,
one foot taller, worlds wiser,
after all you can see much farther
than I can.

I will be your off-balance growth spurt.
I will keep you grounded.

Go slow,
put one foot in front of the other
because your long strides
are crossing mountains
while I’m climbing foothills.
You’re already diving in
when I’m still getting my feet wet.
Wait for me in the deep end,
as far as you can stand.
I’m coming in.

Crash at four AM.
Caffeine can’t keep
your jackrabbit brain running.
Sit with me. Sing with me.
I cannot get my foot in my mouth
if the words are set in stone
unless I stumble.
And hopefully
we won’t trip on the same line.
But if we do,
I’m not afraid to fall with you.

Maybe that’s all we ever do.
We trip and slip and fall
back to one another.
I am the needle of a compass
whose only direction is your smile.
The pitter-patter of your heart
beats in time with my feet as I
skip down the sidewalk,
hike across mountains,
slide across poolside pavement,
tap to the beat of your favorite song.

It’s been too long
since we walked side by side.
Hold my hand
as my feet
and your heart
beat together.

 

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