a couple was dancing

and I was the room, a cavernous audience. I was depositing things into the room, so many things that I seemed to be the reason they had no space to be able to speak. I can’t tell you what came over me that night but, watching them as I was, and feeling the lilting surge of their phantom conversation moving through me beneath the quiet light, I was moved to protect them. They never noticed me for a moment. I may have been the ghost, I may have been that swollen hum of time. I may have been the daybed in the old conservatory, I may have been his reading glasses on the open book, I may have been the pair of rainboots in the hallway with dried rings of muddied water splayed like earthly constellations on the rubber toe caps. I may have been the hedge of jasmine, or the sprig that she picked on that last morning and pressed inside the cover of his novel, I may have been the pair of crystal glasses with salted rims. I may have been the injured bird that she rescued and later devoured, or the handful of fur wrenched from her neck in an ugly argument. I may have been an old tin of hair lacquer in the bathroom cupboard, I may have been the time that tackied the rim shut. I may have been that single lightbulb dangling, crushed and sparkling, waiting to happen. I might have happened. I may have been their patience and their distance, their stubborn flight or the startled window left to frost over the next winter. I may have been the single dangling lightbulb, having already happened and yet happening still. I wonder if I wasn’t every piece of it. I wonder if I still am every outstanding bet, every orchestral swell, every backlit screen, every sideways haunting.

About the author
Danielle Todd is a poet and short story writer from New Zealand. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in titles such as Ink, Sweat & Tears, Foxtrot Uniform, Runcible Spoon, A Fine Line (NZ Poetry Society), and Little Stone Journal, and was shortlisted for the 2020 Sargeson Prize. She is currently working on her first poetry collection.