Retreat Retreat (The Caldron)

She can walk where she’s going; I take a bus that passes by her, working along an indirect route toward something less attractive than what she represents. She’s smiling and her steps put rhythm in her hair. And why is she smiling? Where is she walking to? Whatever the answer, I can see it does her a good that I wouldn’t share merely by getting off the bus. What could I say? As if I had no imagination— Am I going your way?—or do I imagine her saying —Yes, if you’re walking to the bookstore on the corner. —Yes, because you are my brother’s friend, and I’ve long wanted to meet you. She’s a gold finch flying to a geranium that grows in a crack of the sidewalk. She’s safe from fear because she has nothing to hide. She’s the morning breeze, she’s a dollar bill in the gutter, and she’s not what I think because I don’t understand her. My heart leaps to follow when I look out the window. I imagine the girl, the bookstore, the brother. Yet I stay in my seat; I have gotten off the bus before, already headed toward a life that I have imagined.

The Caldron