Imani Marshall-Stephen

The Pearls

Peeking through your vanity door,
I watch you press your fingertips
to the string of pearls around your neck.
Your dark brown eyes, melted chocolate
seas, fix on the image staring back
from the glass.  You unhook the clasp,
place the precious beads in a red
velvet cocoon as slowly as you’d place
a baby in a bassinet. 

I hear the slow click of the closing case,
the “shhh” as you slide it to the back
of your drawer and wonder if it holds
your secrets. 

You leave your throne.  My curious feet
tiptoe forward. My hands lift the pearls
from their royal chamber to drape
across the rigid frame of my collarbone,
and the girl in the glass smiles
at me as my eyes raise to meet hers. 

But when your footsteps echo behind me,
I forget to breathe, and time mocks my
attempt to race it.  Hurried, I unhook
the pearls from my neck, and they slip,
like water, between my fingers.  They
shatter on the wooden floor with
one staccato note that revealed your secret.  

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