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Across the Crowded Hall

I don’t remember the night, but I remember the dream.

I was the only one who could see you,
like you were a dream within a dream.
The hall was full of those blind people,
but still I shook your hand.

A man stopped to stare at me strangely,
like I knew someone would,
for it looked to him as if I was grasping at empty air.
In reality (though not really reality),
I was grasping at the memory of you—
firmly, as a proper handshake should be—
and perhaps I was hoping for my fingers
to close around an answer hidden in your palm,
though that hope might as well have been the ghost.

Why would you come to shake my hand?
Was it a final goodbye?
Was it because you’re proud of me (but for what?)?
Or was it simply a test of faith?
Did you hold out your hand for me across the crowded hall
just to see if I would take it?

I can’t lie to you—I hesitated.
I saw the silent stares of the passerbys.
“What would they think?” I thought.
But then, in that thinking, I thought,
“The only familiar face is yours.”

So I took that leap of faith—
that one step to cross the narrow hall—
and shook your hand,
under the unseeing eyes of everyone
across the crowded hall.

I never saw the passing man again.



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