Here it is! The published piece with line-breaks (almost) exactly where I want them!
Temporarily Aligned Under Noon
Toni Nichole Sanderson
Two after noon o’ clock and the vessels are pouring polite bits of something
to fill in moments of nothing
with faces commanded aright,
accompanied by conscious laughs,
or sighs, depending.
None of the pouring affects, not even slightly is let.
Sincerely cannot connect as such:
A touch of discomfort,
yet so accustomed as to make it comfortable
there in the foyer where the pair of men stood.
“It is Mike, actually.”
“Yes, you are. I’m Alan.”
“Ah, my apologies.”
“Afternoon, more like.”
“Morning’s already passed.”
“I see. Both hands amassed below the twelve, as are we. Now that I am oriented in time, might I ask how you are,
in addition to correct?”
“Fine as well.“
For either party, neither embarrassment from mistaken identities
nor affronts taken from lack of inflection upon inquiring of possible afflictions.
Between chit and chat, a coffee sip caffeinated Mike’s mustache;
kept and saturated an upper lip.
His company oblivious to any obligation to say anything.
He will glance in a mirror eventually,
perchance wipe it clean accidentally
and unwittingly save his face.
A drop dripped back in the cup, absolved.
See? It has already begun
to resolve itself.
“The new decor is very nice.”
“Quite. This commercial flooring will hide the children’s spills,
especially of the deep red variety,
“I meant the paint a story below. You seen?”
“No, I have yet been shown, but it is good too, I bet.”
Truthfully, he did see and, honestly, didn’t really think it so.
It just never occurred he might share his fastidious eye
and careful hands that could have lent their talent,
provided for its betterment.
But no matter.
He invented himself an inflamed appendix of more use disposed of, as to not spread infection.
Supposed an unsaid acceptance of the distance,
remaining restrained when an instance of proposition was upon his tongue;
reacting, in fact, in exception when weariness, cheerfulness, and all telling sentiments
Those softer parts of the heart
withheld, though not fiercely,
only quietly tucked away;
laid down and leather-bound between gold-trimmed pages
right before entering stain-glass doors,
and so ensure offenses cannot be exchanged or betrayal provided for.
“Whatever happened to that older gentleman
who was in clockwork attendance this decade past,
whose fair wife escaped him, and name apparently evades me?”
“I believe we crossed paths,
but not recently.”
“Was it Blair?”
“Calvin, I think.”
It was Jacob.
He united six months ago with a more favorable climate
to await the termination his of prognosis.
“Did you hear about that tragedy yesterday?
Isn’t it saddening?”
“Yes. Very impressing. I never did comprehend those who settle
where annual plane winds send houses and cattle places outside of Kansas anymore.
I hope all will be well for them,
as it is for us.”
“I meant the Lone Star state. It’s up in flames, you know.”
“Oh, then let us hope all will be well for them also,
as it is for us.”
After a bit more hub and bub,
the drifting converse led minds to wander
and ponder the television din of their respective dens.
Imaginations swerved to sieve through programming expectations
that could be recorded, stored up for a more leisurely midday,
but due to volition’s loss to conjure new discussion
they thus left one another with nowhere to be,
no errand or chore of import to say “busy.”
For distractions their interaction expired;
turned each with symmetry:
a drawn breath,
While that unevent transpired,
disconnect of another version occurred.
Not diffidence. Not indifference.
A trace of disharmony
yet so crafted as to make it harmonious—
the question of attire arose
there in the aisle where the pair of women stood.
“Claire, how are you?”
“I’ll want to know where you came about that blouse.”
“This one? That I’m wearing?”
“No, the one beneath. Yes, that one. What other presently traces your nape?
it was given to me by
an old friend.”
“Are you certain it wasn’t procured at such-and-such a place?”
“I’m sure; an old friend insisted I take it on account she thought I wore it better.”
“You may not be able to find another. Look, your right side. There appears a stain.”
To the bystander, it seems superfluous to ask for clarification on the identification of that shirt
Perhaps Brenda asks in feign, its wearer thought, at first —
Being the benefactor, the inquirer ought to have known from whence it came —
until it dawned her eyes broadcast nothing pretending.
Given the past,
her forgetfulness came as no surprise
and after “ums”
Claire felt no purpose in apprizing her of an accurate memory.
So she responded with the same empty air appending Brenda’s face,and the same blankness attached to the item donned; its shades of marbled jade
disassociated from its origins and affections doffed from its hems at last.
“A stain? Where? It must have been a trick of off lighting.”
“You might glance again below your arm, in plain view.”
“Any chance it was a strange shadow?”
“No, I see it unchanging as you move. It is a sickly sulfur hue.”
“Well, I don’t see anything.”
“Mustard, you think?”
“I don’t like the stuff and I haven’t had any lately.”
“Oh, but this blot of yours, it is truly unsightly.”
“I still don’t see it, not even slightly.”
“Then you are not seeing, at least not rightly. I have a hunch that this home remed—”
“Listen, enough. I think that would be truly unnecessary.”
They spoke politely as could be through clenched teeth
amidst the tension in this trifle thing that irked each at each.
Undercurrents of strife in their speech foreign from remembrance of an earlier day,
way back when,
when their markers ticked together.
The hour sped alongside the minute, as they’d talk.
Or perhaps the clock froze, instead, preserving its stirrings that all might be said
because above themselves they did not make out its tocks,
or heard whether it whirred or fled.
Nonetheless, opportunity arose to interpret amiss—
though one would guess precedent proof enough to dismiss it—
a miscommune here led to miscommune there;
soon enough were misunderstandings of this, that, and this.
They slowly chose not to give out benefits of doubt;
enmity cowered amity, and lies reality,
and thereby no longer espied the spotlessness imputed unto their counterpersons.
“Nice day after those April showers brought May showers.”
“The weather, of course!
A regular thing to palaver with its seasonal wavers and overall dependability to always be.”
“It’s an influence worth mentioning, I think, especially in this instance.”
“Has its persistence pulled you under itself?“
“I’m not entirely over it, but I’m well.”
“You’re a little under it, yet not ill?”
“It’s not a sickness, per se. This time of year reminds me of an anniversary I thought I forgot”
But it precipitates it will soon be hot; summertime is almost official.”
“True, but I still hate thinking about milestones I’ve missed;
It had just been making me feel——
you’re right, summertime is almost official.”
Ceased, desisted and in keeping things superficial,
Claire knew better than to make a mess out of her shoulder
Aware her listener would have refused effusions, anyway,
she exchanged her shoulder for a pillow:
Absorbent, armless. Unable to throw away
A handkerchief waved with circumvent of subject,
and from her hand displaced
while her audience stepped aside, allowed it to float by,
followed it to the floor, and lifted it upon its landing;
the need to give or receive sympathy stowed out of heart until a safer day
comes on clouds with fire the world over, not just in Texas.
Tissue returned civilly to its rightful owner:
“You dropped this.”
Topics too personal encroached upon safeguards;
familiar fears approached and began to unwind
synchronized gears grinding in each mind,
and found within their analogue cogs a pretext to exit.
Both relieved to speak of excuses to excuse themselves
until the next habitual reconvene:
“It was great catching up, Brenda, but I’m afraid I have a lot to do.”
“I understand. I have also accrued a bottleneck on my agenda:
a meeting to attend, a rain check to tender, and a project to see through.”
“Have a nice week.”
“You too. And I’ll be sure to find a removal recipe for you.
Around these scenes the Spirit heaved a heavy grief;
at unity that did not labor to pursue sincerity and peace,
and so easily painted streaks of disfavor.
Its accord was shallow rapport,
disparate from the mandate “weep with those who weep
and mourn with those who mourn.”
Dispassion of Mike and Alan discarded the plea to act as varied cords of a single instrument
unsevered and cause together feel each discouraged sting
and, as one, be buoyant strains strumming along if heartstrings purred
Purpose of Claire’s and Brenda’s was missed upon forgone mending,
so these saints went marching in triumphant futility
when they did not bear with and bear up, coalesce to buttress,
believe the best, find some sense of forgiveness.
Neither is it light nor life
when the disheartened do not unite.
It is void of love and sight
that we have joys, but they are not collective.
We have sorrows, but they are solitary.
“We” is merely for proximity
because while we are here, still we are not together.
And our apartness is not counted among those friendless sorrows.
Remember, we have no affect.
Only temporarily aligned under noon
like those rigid hands on a schedule,
lists to do,
and we come around again to pass, not stop, by.
Special thanks to my good friend, Tawna, whose feedback helped polish the final version. ❤