She was standing at the edge A little unsure I could tell The tips of her toes hung Over the margin of the pavement Curled as if clinging for dear life A car rushed by then So close it brushed her hemline She didn’t jump back Just stood at the edge Her body immobile Serene in the bustling metropolis But only for a moment
The next instant delivered tension Braced shoulders, a bitten lip A lined forehead, clenched fists.
She turned a bit then And magic followed suit What caused it, a mystery But: I smiled -with all my heart. A foot retreated right on cue Face brightening slightly Shoulders mellowing The corners of her lips rose Forehead smooth Fists unfolded She nodded as if in thanks And dissolved in the crowd.
I realized later: I saved the day that day. I know because she said so. I met her shopping for birthday gifts She silently picked out a thank you card Extended the token in gratitude Only then did she say: “A smile equaled a step back Anything else equaled a step forward.”
Only then did I realize A smile equals an antidote An encouragement A sip of good wine A favorite tune A sweet memory For her -a step back. My smile matched An obsolescence of the theory That she was the sum of her predicaments My smile sparked Her refusal to be part of a tragedy, The prevention of a young woman’s suicide, A home without a mother And a body without a spirit.
“So thank you.” She was saying: “You saved the day that day.”