by Amy Engbretson

One of the loneliest sounds I ever heard
was in the Denver airport women’s.
We stood in line, flushed and washed, dried our hands,
nose rings and covered heads and cropped hair and suitcases.
We shared nothing
but a gender and a moment in space-time.
One of us, alone in a stall, wailed a pure
carrying wail of sadness.
One cry, a shock wave hitting the room, then silence. We
held the silence for her, is all
I can say for us.
Had her mother died? Was she carrying a secret,
loved baby, in the messy glory of our shared
femaleness, and miscarried it?
We waited out an airless moment, filling the room with silent compassion.
Then the girl with the nose ring and I washed our hands side by side,
so close and so far.
Not even our eyes met in the mirror.

Amy Engbretson writes from Grangeville, Idaho.

Photography by Kenneth Godoy

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