If I were a character in a novel, say
by Kawabata, that evening we met
twenty years ago, I would have
placed my hand lightly on your shoulder,
and I would have felt a heat,
embers of a passion that would,
in hours, leave me consumed by it.
I was a middle-aged, soon to be
divorced man on his first date
in thirty years, imagine a teenager
knowing what not to do, but with no
idea of what to do save chatter
and periodically gaze at his shoes.
I was, as the evening progressed,
bold enough to take your hand,
and hoped that my fear and anxiety
might be mistaken as romantic,
or bold and daring, anything but
the reality that was consuming me.
We’ve been together twenty years,
and as I read Kawabata again, I
recall those first moments, but
in this revised edition it was
your passion I felt in that first touch,
a flame that consumes me to this day.
He knew she had a special
meaning for him the first time
he saw her, from his usual seat
by the window in the diner, waiting
for his bagel and cream cheese,
and she at the table along
the window of the Starbucks across
the street, which might as well
have been an ocean, so unlikely
was either to make a crossing.
By the third time she had noticed
him, and offered a polite wave,
which he gladly returned, each
assuming it was an act of civility,
each, at least he, hoping it could be more.
He thought, briefly, about dashing
across the street and meeting her,
but he was no fan of coffee, less
by far of what Starbucks served,
and their bagels, well enough said.
So they went on with waves and nods,
until the day he looked and she
wasn’t there, and he knew she had
moved on without him, left him behind
or found a place with good coffee.
Publsihed in Mehfil, #8 August 2020
The introductions were relaxed
but complete as befits three people
in a small room, she the linchpin
knowing each of the others, utter strangers
to each other, save in her stories.
The men stared at each other gently
ensuring the other saw only a smile
for the better part of two minutes, basking
in the silence that introductions demand.
“I am really surprised,” the older man said,
“it is truly odd, but you look at absolutely, exactly
like what I imagined the adopted son
of Isadore Myers would look like
not more than 30 seconds ago.”
“It is truly odd,” the younger man replied,
“you look nothing at all like
the man I met in this room
not a second more than a minute ago,
and why, pray tell,
is that woman over there smiling?
We sit and discuss
complex viscosity values
and loss tangent ranges
throwing in relaxation modulus
for good measure,
but we end up at ratios,
slicing the data ever thinner,
until I fog over
and remember that today
is the first day of summer,
and the birds, bathing in the sun
play like children
from their winter bondage.