Sunday, October 31, 2021

Strange Rivers

Why did the man stop beneath the Eiffel Tower
and meet the woman who would share his bed for fifty years?

Why did the woman teach high school history
instead of getting married

and moving to New York City
to entertain in grand salons

with a trademark martini always in hand
and a cigarette holder between her white fingers?

Sometimes people rake leaves because it is fall,
and even the russet and gold need to be piled high

before the north country snow blows into town
and pedestrians sink behind upturned jacket collars.

The alarm clock rings, and circadian momentum
moves us to coffee and the early morning commute.

Some things need to get done.
Some things just happen.

But mystic currents flow through invisible seams
that stitch together the farthest galaxy

to the freckles on the boy next door
and his pining for the girl that he yearns to hold.

Why do we turn left instead of right,
blurt out “I love you!”

or spend an idle hour in a museum,
transfixed by motes in a sunbeam

that transports us to what might have been
and the time we didn’t obey the flow

of strange rivers that would have led
to the heart and the road not taken?

A factory in Pennsylvania exploded,
but the cherry trees blossomed again

and the retired railroad worker read Proust
instead of sitting alone in a movie theater.

The trick of it all
is to look out the corner of your eye,

glimpse the river as it forks,
and look for signs in the clouds

or words on peeling parchment of the birch,
thus assuring you will never miss love

or the lilting language of the nearby stream
that kisses you when you least expect it to.

~William Hammett

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