By Connie Zumpf
Featured art by Callie Gibson
You’ve seen it.
That slight shudder of shadow
on the fringe of your vision.
The thing you think you might have seen
while reading Proust at night.
It slips into a crack somewhere.
You search behind the chest of drawers
and underneath the bed. There’s nothing
but a fleeting after breath
of cinnamon and mint.
You think you’ve left the music on.
Humming wafts in from the kitchen
and floorboards creak in 2/4 time
like someone sliding a tango alone.
Following footfalls, muffled steps.
You turn, the sidewalk’s empty—except
for acorns and crackled leaves, strewn
as if awaiting a late-autumn bride.
Dining alone you scan the café,
certain that someone is staring,
but there’s only a waitress checking her watch,
and a man dipping madeleines into his tea.
Then one day, while on your way
to a rendezvous so many times
dismissed, ignored, re-slated—
you spot a figure, somehow familiar,
who waits on a bench by the fountain,
tossing sandwich scraps to the birds
and patiently watching
biding time as would a beloved
who knows your entire life,
on this day when you come to Death,
who rises to greet you,
smelling of cinnamon (or is it mint?),
arms open to your approach
despite your late arrival.
Connie Zumpf’s poetry has appeared in North American Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, The Christian Century, I-70 Review, and other publications. Her chapbook “Under This Sun” was published in March 2020 (Finishing Line Press). Zumpf is a member of Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO.