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Below and Above

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I recall the way his cracked lips
parted over his smile,
where it seemed every other tooth was missing:
a checkerboard happiness
staring up, staring back:
a purpose, a problem.

I recall the way his quiet eyes
painted portraits of the world,
where everyone was what they were—could not hide—
from the aquatic solutions
staring up, staring back:
a picture, a passion.

And I recall the way his shoes revealed his toes
like portals to the grounds he had trodden.
Where people pass: no empathy in the bottoms of their pockets,
to spare a glance—they can’t.
Staring up, staring back,
a person, all people:
staring up,
when he should be looking down.



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