In college I spent whole days by the river
watching yachts drift, toward dusk
finding a bench on the white gravel path
to catch the harbor breeze. I filled page
after page in notebooks or sketched the palms
outlined against the sky. And once, deep in a story
I was writing—about seeing myself as a twin,
the twin and I were talking—a man approached
in a halfhearted jog, and stopped, and turned to say
something about the weather. Yes, I said, it’s nice
and he asked my name and whether I went
to the college. Yes, I said. I did not know what to say
to a man that old, so I pointed to the river,
said look, where the sleek fins lifted
in uncatchable rhythm, my favorite thing
about that place and, still, about those days.
Though I could calculate their speed, the current,
where they’d surface was always a surprise.
The man sighed, and now I am not sure
whether he sat or only hovered there, but I believe
he would have sat, and the sigh was like dropping
a heavy load, with the knowledge that soon
he would lift it again. Actually, he began.
The words were far away or I was already retreating
into myself—actually, those are porpoises.
I stared ahead as he explained the size of fins,
or blowholes, their gray flanks lost in the dazzle
of ripples from a boat. I couldn’t tell you,
even now, but I am certain they were dolphins
as I was certain then that something was beginning—
in airports, the polished wood of bars, a corner table—
I would never again be allowed to sit alone
with a book, or keep my own council, or stare off
in silence. Either you are nodding now,
or you are shaking your head, or you are putting down
this book to tell me I am wrong,
that no one sees a woman alone
like a coin to pocket, a sunset to photograph
and keep. I don’t remember how I got the man to leave,
unless it was to become so small and still
I blended with the bench, with the stones and water.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 3.
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