This afternoon, under some weeping willows,
I sat on a park bench,
Watching time pass like an old-ager
Pushing his wheel chair uphill in slow steps,
Making progress with the strength of a skilled horseman
In his last chariot's race with death.
I heard a group of spring-drunk
Mexicans chanting love songs in Spanish, happy
To have an hour free from wage-labor and
Playing football as though wooing the first virgin named,
The birds sang in chirpy laughs
At the dumb merriment of us fools
While under those thousand leaves
I eavesdropped on other strangers' soft-speak,
Looking with their voices for a springtime romance
Or a willing ear to hear their loneliness
That not even God could understand.
Sometimes I see them—
Images of me at seventy,
Sharing stories about my failing health,
Appeasing the whims of homesickness
In exchange for the shelter of my former self.
Sitting where the forest meets the field,
I read the trees’ still, alive engravings
Of bygone lovers’ bodies,
Traced in misshaped circles on bark—
Hieroglyphs as ancient as passion and speech:
“Matt loves Natalie, ‘93” and other lost names
Carved inside the cartoon permanence of unbroken hearts.
An aging married couple, either ignorant
Or acutely aware of their own absurdity,
Passed me by on the border-path ahead,
Pushing their Shitsu in a stroller
As it stared back at me like a puppy-eyed child.
I saw the hills rise into the old-ager,
Stretching, arm-in-sling, from where he perched
To watch the soccer match end,
Readied and armored with his solitude
To finish that which fears lesser men.