Finally, She Could Not Love Him

He showed me a picture
he took of her
one long-ago July
as she crouched down
to marvel at the frogs,
small and green
and undisturbed
by the curiosity
that filled the afternoon
like sunshine.
It was the day they met,
he said—
and he didn’t know
there would be other days
they would meet
in the future—
days that were separated
by months, seasons.
He said she told him
things she didn’t have
anyone else to tell—
things that made him
the happy-enough life
he went home to—
things that made him
want to leave it behind.
And he wondered
if this woman
could ever love him
the way she loved
the man in her poems—
the poems he imagined
himself into—
and I asked him why
he’d never told me this
and he explained
it wasn’t until now
that he could say for sure
without breaking down
that the answer
to his unasked question
was no.





“Morning by the Stream” by T.C. Steele, 1893

The Botanist, Part II

When you walked outside
to examine the growth on the magnolias
we planted in my woods last year,
I was supposed to be starting dinner—
putting the water on to boil—
but I walked to the window and watched you
hover over the new leaves—
watched you kneel down to touch them gently
like one of the children we never had.
I knew you’d be leaving soon
after we ate the green beans and the rice
and the five bluegill we caught at Griffy Lake
so I needed to study you a little while longer
to let your image burn into a memory
I could take with me to bed or to work
or to this blank page
where I’ve always taken you, caged you—
This sacred and only place you’ve ever been





Painting by Isaac Levitan, 1880. “In the vicinity of the Savvino-Storozhevsky monastery”