She watches you step

She watches you step across the tile, stockings and stockings soaking through. Your stocking feet leave their own grainy impressions as they buff and smear away bare foot prints and fingernail traces in the condensation. You step pointedly onto the older footprints; your feet slide. The coolness in the steamy room cools the skin in double worn overlapping holes in the stockings. You hide in your footsteps, thrown across the city. Recombined and reoriented by the tides and time they are dishonest and you leave them unexplained. They are hers, or hers, theirs. You cannot start guessing tonight. She saw them fall, press in and grind and the sea lap over them and she saw you struggle across the pavement, spiraling around apartments, courtyards, and parking lots. Footsteps to the window, standing tall on toes, to the kitchen table, pausing, stepping backward to the door, straight forward across the carpet, feet falling at vacuum seams, straight forward across the carpet and slowly into shadow soft stockings slide. You hide out beyond your footsteps, beside her, connected to her empty gaze, curling around door frames, table legs, feet stacked side on side your legs drawn upward.

Your fingers are hooked into a claw, now, and earlier, when she watched you pausing on the sidewalk outside the black steel gate, you held your dress at the hips, your fingers pressing thing floral fabric into palm, and pulled up on your skirts, pushed the fabric back on top of your hips and your knuckles and a tartan seam circumscribed your knees. You looked up at the window slowly passing the window and never stopping at it in a sweep to the horizon. You curled hands run down from your hips to smooth the skirts over your thighs and push down the roll of stockings as you bend slowly into a crouch. Your curled hand fits over the rim of a pale green bathtub, a doorknob covered in paint, a cool dry mug, wrists, the heel of a shoe, a fluorescent light bulb, soft earth, the oceanic horizon. She appeared large from the window, looming absently in the distant outdoors, and stood upright, pausing on the sidewalk.
Your body is tense as your arch forward, reaching out toward your ankles. The night grows cooler and more damp. In the dampness dust clings to your skin, things get matted into one another in glistening confusion. Hair, collar, pavement, cheek all flatten and slide across one another as you contort. You turn your face out away from the pavement, looking across your shoulder with unfocused eyes, gently blinking viscous eyes and lashes together kissing the cold lights that wash off of the water. You look toward light from darkness, whatever is most distant, a failure fixation, and you cannot touch your toes without bending your knees. Your knees are bent and stacked and your feet are stacked ankle on ankle, your hands curled and empty. The night lights play off of unseen waters slowly rolling and are gathered up in the dew and condensation absent their liquid twinkle. You glimpse inert kitchen fluorescent sconces, twill browned lampshade over milk glass, plastic globes, candle flames, and a bare light bulb rejected by every mirror across Venice before dying into the dark water, a dim, uncontested death.

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