Beautiful stranger, each day I come upon these fields and woods
In hope of another glimpse of you.
In two weeks and a day I have seen you twice.
The moment before I first saw you
I gazed across a field and mouthed “I love you”
At the day, or me, or nothing in particular, or everything at once.
When I looked at the path again
There you were, on the path of the overlook
Striding in my direction, umbrella in hand.
Brown, curly hair, soft well-trimmed beard.
You smiled, and I smiled
You said hello, and then I hello, as we passed.
Our eyes met and then I looked away
Stricken with shyness
I looked down as we passed
And that was that.
I finished my walk, and got in my car
And realized what an impression you’d made.
Two-thirty. I noted the time.
And have thought of you since.
The second time, I couldn’t look
You, shirtless, emerged from the meadow, and crossed my path.
Speechless, abounding, I was helpless to behold you.
You hurried to your car
The door slammed
You must have gotten dressed and then
You drove away. I heard but couldn’t turn and look.
How thrilled I’d been, the unwound hour previous
To see your car, bronze-gold
With a berkshire plate.
I have consulted Whitman, to figure out what to do.
I carry a slip of paper which I imagine, if I see you,
I might slip to you, the way Emily Dickinson proferred
White lilies to the astonished Mr. Higginson.
The note contains Whitman’s words, not mine.
“17 October [I must be careful–hunters are permitted to bow deer now-Will this keep you away?],
"Pondering Walt Whitman,” I penned.
To You, it’s called.
STRANGER! If you, passing meet me, and desire to speak to me,
Why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?
Written in 1860, it speaks to me now.
Why not speak to you, indeed?
Whitman, in another poem, counsels not to.
(And there is plenty reason for me
To chastely keep to myself.)
I imagine little scenes with you –
I hand you the slip of paper, you read
You follow after me, take me in your arms, give me a kiss.
Wait, I say, Whitman said speak, not kiss.
Perhaps I slip it to you on the path
Look back as you read, astonished.
Or perhaps I place it on your car
Tucked on your windshield
Or under a stone on the hood of your car.
Will you know it’s from me?
Or I imagine meeting you on the path again and being brave enough
To ask you out for coffee.
We go to Le Gamin.
But if I am Echo, are you Narcissus?
Will you push me away?
Are you, even, straight – or gay?
Straight, I’m sure of it – else why the voltage as you passed?
I long for you and ache
In despair I look for you
Mr. Whitman comforts me.
From another poem, To a Stranger,
He offers advice to the lovelorn.
I am not to speak to you
I am to wait
I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
I thought I had it figured out –
You come Fridays
But yesterday – no
Or maybe I scrap the note
And if I see you on the path
I say, “Hello, passing stranger”
Perhaps you recognize it – perhaps you teach English
And so you know what I mean.
Or you are puzzled, and if you ask
I say, over my shoulder, walking past,
google Whitman, passing, and stranger!
And then you know.
18 October 2008