If he wasn’t the real thing, devil take me, the likeness was realism at its best,
for the man waiting in line as I passed by was a full-length statue of an old friend.
As if modelled in detail by Rodin, he held a pensive and pacific pose, and
recalled the very image that latterly whisked through my mind and cued a sigh
from me as with hearts he cradled and caused to lust in the past as present day.
Was I again breaking with reality and conjuring from the dark depths of my being
a Scottish warrior whose weapons are courage and the sharpest mind and heart?
Why is it always him that I look for no matter how unlikely the joy? Why
does distance open that broad channel which overwhelms me with light?
Quiet heart! You ought to know it’s not him; Wait . . . .
These wails from afar he seemed to hear.
He executed a quarter turn,
caught and locked me in his big, clear blue eyes,
and without a gesture, called me closer to answer
to show just whose salty beard — dang it, whose head,
rose to the same height and had the same slope as his.
I forgot I was to dart him a cold look,
spin on my heels and depart like a diva;
moreover, once he smiled I could not move.
I could not execute in tune with the tempo of my heart.
Memories flared like flags of caution and invitation, and
confused with no option but that open to the weak, I read
for permission to reach out, to embrace him, to kiss him . . .
to somersault nearer and nearer, and to wrap myself around him
to drop with him, and roll on the floor like his back was new issue.
No! his mien said, remember,
we’re grown-ups now and lusty displays of affection
might embarrass one and the whole line before us, so preserve decorum.
Yes decorum — that firm hand which compresses child-like delight
till the inner force gearing to transport us to the Serengeti dies
powerless bring to exotic wilds, a pair to endless romps.
He said it was his age and pains I catered to, not his robust heart,
And I, with eyes and hands meeting his as we stole time over tea, believed.
Like that I was well and didn’t wonder till later: Why we met after so long, today?
Yet, while I seek to know, knowing now seems hardly the most important thing.