Parallel Paths - Poem by Kevin Clark
Today you're lucky, in love with your wife
for the first time in weeks, both of you
out for a walk in the overgrown park.
No need to hold hands
like that sadly animate couple
you can see through a clearing
on a parallel path.
go and turns from him. You notice
how in their weather misery hangs
faintly familiar in the cold shadows.
As if having recently unlearned
the habit of empathy, the sky
over their forest seems to laugh
at whatever they say, a woman
turning from a man, their dog
flexed on a heap of duff
pretending to study the sparrows.
Now the woman feigns confidence,
away. Two lives severed
Such a capricious drug,
the present. Look for instance
at this woman's immediate future.
Like yourself once, she will forget
the names of old haunts, her voice
a clever imposter, someone else
filling her mouth, not with words,
but vocables intending her own worth.
Or right now: how all of these thoughts
have occurred to you in a flash.
When you look up, your wife's vanished.
But really she's there, of course,
off the path, among the ancient
waist-high grasses, holding out to you
a single mutable wildflower
burning in its own ochre light.
From here to that flower exist
no guarantees. Best to get on with it.
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