I’m gone 7,210 wandering footsteps,
only to find myself at the river
again. It barrels in full spate
where nets of light trembled
and wavered below languid trout
last summer. I felt no ambition
then, no need of counting footsteps
or the amount of anything.
The breeze was a feather’s weight,
the sun set a torque about
my neck, the river glittered. Then
cloud and shower, a rainbow
stood off from my shoulder.
You walked with me here. Now,
wet winter nights are only part
of the the let-down between us, no trace
even of the faint red twinkle
that must have been Mars. Again
we will temper each other—I,
the poet who didn’t keep his
promise; you, the painter, beginning.
While this half-submerged
washing machine spins and seethes,
spewing bubbles and suds.
Comes a chirrup from deep inside
the darkened wood, that repeats,
repeats so plaintively I must
cross the river, scramble through litter
of dead leaves, reach under
a tree’s oxter. To raise as if it were
creature this mobile phone,
the misplaced words of a stranger.