"Return" - Elsa Russo

"Return" - Elsa Russo

I haven’t taken five steps
Before I hear her walking behind me
I haven’t taken ten steps
Before I can smell her perfume
I haven’t taken twelve steps
Before I feel her arm around my waist
And her hand around my throat

“Can’t escape me now,” she whispers
Knew I couldn’t hide forever
Knew that she would find me
You can’t go sneaking around
And not expect to be found
I choke on smoke and beer
Hear a distant jazz singer on the wind
And smell salt in the air
“Can’t escape me now,” she sighs
Caught between imitation and authenticity
My tongue stutters and stumbles
It takes me two tries to order dinner
Fruit of the ocean and mud from the pot
I don’t think I’ve eaten anything finer
At least not in the past year
Not in the past 15 years

“Can’t escape me now,” she growls
The city wears its scars like a banner
Yes this happened
Yes I was in pain
See me rise again
See me and all that has happened
She is different, but she is still the same
And I am still just in love with her as before

“Can't escape me now,” she whines
From the wind coming off the river
I want to lose myself in the waves
I want to be dashed against the rocks
I want to drink the river down
So it never leaves me again

“Can't escape me now,” she laughs
I’m greeted by the mothers and sisters
The women who smile and wrap me
In the arms of time and laughter
We whisper jokes that only we understand
Name names that are not names
But we always know who we are talking about

“Can’t escape me now,” she moans
Taught to suck the meat from the shells
I drink liquor from goblets that dwarf my hands
And taste the bounty of the ocean one last time
Old shamans pass me off to new ones
And we stare into the night of shared experience
Realizing at last that we were never that far from each other

“Can't escape me now.”
I turn and whisper,
“Who said that I want to?”

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