twenty-first street

she wished that she could speak to him in a
way he would understand, that the clouds
would lift long enough for it to take hold,
that she was leaving town and that was
always part of the plan,

that they would grow away from one another
and that was always part of the plan,
even if he had no plan,
even if he felt a different way;
the light of prophecy that guided her
or whatever you want to call it;
the plan that was called “the plan”
somewhere out in space
had them going out
by different roads

how seductive, she thought, was the feeling
that the world with its fateful sinew
could be understood by a heart of requisite
sensitivity, with requisite gentleness:
of course the darkness of the night
is full and full,
but clouds too
are not any more solid
for being real.

but it makes the heart cold;
you become narrow
and jealous in your affairs,
guarding your destiny
like a fool guarding mist on a river;
Don Quixote ready to kill
who would harm the fog,
as if it were not
forever itinerant.

he had called her beautiful many times
and that was always a fine thing
almost regardless of the speaker,
but was beauty really so rare?
a dirt track in Prince Edward might be beautiful,
but it proves nothing beyond that
beauty is like water; we could not exist—
but, she knew for a long time,
he did not see.

he had driven a great distance
through rain across the hills
to be with evidence of her, if not with her.
he had found her at home but did not know,
knocked many times and murmured
something inaudible, no one else around
and the rain continued; she might as well
have been asleep—she would not have
heard him, would not have known.
but for the world to keep turning
she needed to remain quiet
and not give in;
this was not cruelty, after all;
he himself was cruel.

actually, they both spoke
but the rain intervened
and they did not hear;
he sat back in his car and drove
but waited around the corner for a long time,
maybe an hour—she did not know
but it would not have surprised her
if he wept miserably all the way back to his
place; it was part of the reason
she had done as she had done in the first place;
that was always part of the plan.

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