The woods were filling with the deep amethysts
of October and the windows of Stone Hall flashed
with sunlight that morning you stopped me
to ask how I liked my classes. Your bones hurt
me with their keen angles, and your long
blue tie hung down the front of your shirt
its obvious symbol for love. Your eyes searching
mine were green as lakewater after rain
has stippled its surface -
Married for years, I brushed you off,
but day after day you stopped me to chat, your hand
on your hip making you appear
nonchalant although I knew
you liked me, your voice with the sound
of the bell found far off shore that imparts more
loneliness than warning.
You might be surprised how often
I think of you. We are all lonely
in our own way.
The other day, on a whim, I called your office
at the college – no one knew your name;
he must have
moved on years ago, they said.
In the brief complexity of life
we make the minutiae fit the memory:
maybe I didn’t see myself and the world stopped
in the spirit lamps of your eyes,
maybe your plaid shirts didn’t glow quite
so exquisitely in the slanted autumn light.
I remember you
down to the finest detail,
and convince myself that you could not have been the half
to complete my whole, nor the store of
aqua vitae that welled in your laugh and spilled into the air
like a hand toss of bright coins, sparkling,
No, you were more like
a soldier marching through a village on his way
to the front, and I was a young woman waving
a handkerchief as you passed.
© by Sherry Hughes Beasley.
Used with the author’s permission.