Handsome, tall, wrapped in a worn but still snappy cashmere coat,
the man quicksteps around the shoe department testing
a pair of oxfords. Dancing tentatively in his wake
is an elegant miniature, around five,
her dark hair, high forehead and lanky frame,
a mirror of him.
Rosebud lips, aquiline nose and emerald eyes belong
to a missing piece of the triad: some pretty woman, possibly home
cutting crusts from sandwiches they will devour
when the duo returns, ravenous from their morning at the mall,
or perhaps their lady was lost giving birth
or vanished with whatever wind
blows families apart; I don’t know.
I do know I watch them, momentarily ignoring
my recently retired husband, as he grumpily tries on
casual footwear to match his new lifestyle. I observe how
this little gem of a girl silently keeps pace with the man,
her small hand outstretched as if to catch his coattail,
but never quite grabbing hold; he doesn’t seem to notice.
The pair whisks past our seats, her with arm extended, him
waltzing just out of reach. I return my attention to
my beloved, busy now untying shoes he will not buy
because the current styles do not suit him. I remember
all those years, him leaving for work, coattails flapping
in the wind, and I reaching out to wave goodbye.
Now, my hand touches his, we smile at each other
and I want to call out to this other man: “Time
moves too fast!” but when I turn, all I catch
is a glimpse of his coattail
as he lopes out of the store,
his tiny shadow
From Movie Life (Finishing Line Press, 2011)
Used here with author’s permission.