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Chemical Reaction

Ellen Waters

Sitting across from me.

I watch as you catch a wisp of hair

just before it hits the table and twist it

cautiously about your fingertips.

The air grows hard and stale between us

as I tap out time into the foam-smeared rim

of my mug. My eyes track your movements

as you reach one hand up to

trace the edge of your collarbone anxiously,

brush a speck of dirt from your cheek

and readjust your sleeve

before clasping it back with the other.

I remember the first time our hands

struck together like that:

the electricity of skin sparking against skin,

the crackle and whip of the air between

our fingertips. I swear, something was

born that day. I wanted to tell you

about the times I had curled my palm,

pre-empting the encircling of yours

around it. I wanted to lay out every

folded scrap of self I kept crumpled

between my heart

and my throat. I wanted to produce

something with you, something to

marvel at, something we could exhibit

in a gallery, in a lab, within the pages

of a book. I wanted to pour every inch

of myself into your hands and watch you

twist me into shapes around your fingertips.

I wanted to tell you everything before

I even knew it myself.

Maybe that is why now,

we have nothing to say.

About the Author

Ellen Waters is a UK student studying English at the University of York. She was a winner of the Anna C. Price Poetry Prize and has been published in The JFA Human Rights Journal, SINK Magazine: Ramble and Viral Verses: Art in Exceptional Times. She enjoys reading and drama, and plays the violin.

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