Lovers’ Hallway

by Cynthia Sue Martell

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

As we snowshoed together across the
Barren frozenness of Lake Nubunusit,
It boomed its traditional late winter
Lament in a mighty, dour, doleful voice.

You saw the frightened look on my face,
Reached out and held my mittened hand,
While warm breath drifted between us,
Effortlessly mingling with the frigid air.

You said, blue eyes squinting against sun,
The lake’s ice is still very solid and deep—
It’s just playin’ its little game of threats.
All’s well and safe, Suzie, I promise you.

When we reached the lake’s far shore,
Our friends had nearly all driven away.
You offered me a lift back in your pickup
To Ben’s nearby farmhouse high on the hill.

I fondly recall shared, joyous camaraderie—
After abundant wine, laughter and anecdotes,
You and I walked to our separate bedrooms
At opposite ends of a long, and hushed hallway.

There were eight bedroom doors stretched
Along the wide, pine-floored length of it,
Four on each side and all closed very tightly:
An absolute necessity for a large farm family.

Of course, neither of us had yet spoken the
Most sacred of human utterances, “I love you.”
If too early said, they can be slippery footing
Along the parameters of a beckoning paradise.

An heirloom grandfather clock in the hallway,
With the punctuality of a good career soldier,
Routinely chimed out the darkest hours of night:
First twelve midnight, then one, and mystical two.

A March storm blew-in with driven, icy snow pellets
That struck the windows while I, still wide-awake,
Sensed your closeness as you, barefooted, slipped
Cautiously down the hallway’s spine to my bedroom.

You moved only as a shadow as you entered my door,
Then quickly drew me close to your wonderful warmth,
While the diligent grandfather clock continued to tick,
And the old house smiled, promising to keep our secret.


Cynthia Sue Martell is a fourth-generation New Hampshire “native.” She has lived most of her life in the state’s Monadnock Region. She and her husband owned and operated Sunnyfield Farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire, for over two decades. Sunnyfield was Peterborough’s last surviving dairy farm. Now retired from farming, Cynthia lives in a log cabin on the farm’s “back-forty” that provides her with a gift of solitude and natural beauty, which nurtures her short stories, poems, and essays.