Andy Betz: Poetry: April 2022

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised in Missouri and now live (very, very) close to Atlanta. With the exception of college, I have spent my entire life in the South.

When Someone Opens a Door (Be Prepared to Walk Through)

That step
All I had to do was take that last step
The step that would lead me back to you
You gave me the encouragement
You gave me the strength
You gave me the opportunity
All I needed to do was take all you offered
     	That day
     	I could do anything
     	Anything in the world
     	And I wouldn’t fail
	All I had to do
	Was what you wanted me to do
What I didn’t do
That plan
No one would even know
No one would get hurt
I knew how to make the money disappear
I knew how to deflect suspicion
I knew how to act innocent
One final step to make all the problems just go away
	That morning
	You had a bad feeling
	But the unpaid bills on the table made me feel worse
	I gave you a “until we meet again” kiss
	You felt cold
	Softly, you said you were cold
	Too soft to hear over the car’s ignition as I drove away
That turn
Into the parking lot
I could have kept going
I was at my Rubicon
I remembered your words
I had the all the ability to heed them
I made the choice otherwise
	That gun
	Feeling heavier than ever
	Dissolving my resolve
	Making me think at speeds I am not accustomed
	Slowing the actions of others
	Taking longer than necessary
	Permitting him to trip the alarm
That time
All of that time
Hours watching the police move closer
Hours watching the store owner bleed
His breath is as now as short as mine
Both of us have only moments
	That phone
	Ringing for too long
	This time it was you
	Crying, screaming, you wanted me to give up
	The door now opens
	The light at the end of the tunnel is visible
	It is a long way away, maybe 20 years, but it is visible
That time
Between opportunity and choice
Between providence and deliverance
Nestled among the stories of others in similar situations
Of others of similar fates
The light is growing dimmer and the door is now closing
And all I have to do is step
Before it is too late