By the Pond

I always turn backwards, walking away. Suddenly a bird flaps from the grass before me, in a reflection of the pond. She returns for birds and subtle things, to note them in a book she brought to fill. I try not to be bold with her detachment. She stares at something else, preoccupied with the green of a tree. She makes me feel a stranger, as though she belongs here. She doesn’t leave her hair alone, and she isn’t nervous. Shadows here don’t make her beautiful. It isn’t noon anymore, and neither of us came here because we had nothing to do.

May 1972