There are women who wait at the door until you arrive like you said you would. Women who stand at the screen with their elbows poking in at the wire like original tuning knobs made of fossilized walrus bone. There are women who wait at the door until your car rolls up in the yard, the engine cut, the headlights shut, the driver’s door cracking the air into two slices of brown bread. There are women who are known to stare from one pecan tree to another, all along the front walk, until the wobbly threshold is filled with the sound and the dirt of the shoes, of the one who left the war he was in to go fight a war he was not. There are women who arrive at the door early and stay later than anyone could dream in order to see who they have to see, first. Women who would rather be flunked or fired than miss the arrival of the one they have not seen, since the last time they saw her, without a baby in her arms, without a monkey on his back, without one dark piece of hammer hair crawling up his cheek like a new man. Ever & Present. She stands and waits at a woman’s specific tall attention, at the door with no peephole glass, waiting to say with her whole woman’s body: There is nothing more important than your arrival at my door, on this day, in this line of sight, at this hour, in this hot rain or midnight hour of sleet, in this moonshine, at this quicksilver ticking breath of regular stove clock and there is nothing you need to have in your arms and nothing you need say. Just fall here or step in. There are women who wait by the door like they were born by the door, like standing by the door and waiting in the frame of the door for a car light to pull in the yard is the only job they have ever had. These women shift from one foot to the other, lean on and into the dimpled wood of the front door never looking behind them to break the organ music of their waiting. They never move away from the door not even when the rooster and the hens start to squawk and move loud and frantic in the pen. They will not be distracted by the possibility of any backyard impending doom. They know the back door is not the front door where the number to the house wobbles every time the dimpled wood there opens and closes because that one missing nail is still missing. There are women who wait by the door who will not move from their waiting threshold and refuse to lend a hand, or an eye, to anything that is about to be slaughtered or lost back behind them—because the very reason they are at the front door, the very promise of what woke them up this morning, will any minute now appear in the future perfect, just like they always said they would, and that will make them, for the first time in a long time, slap the front of their velvet thighs because not one thing about the one who is finally standing there will have had to blow the horn or knock.
Copyright © 2020 by Nikky Finney. Published 2020 by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.