Everything was clear, and nothing much
the better for it.
They agreed it was a matter of caring,
and each felt the dull courage that comes from
They weren't going to bring up Avalon,
that shore town where they first met,
or doing ninety
in the country with the top down:
these were among the unreachables; emblems
of how they felt
once, about each other and a few
lambent afternoons. They leaned back
in their chairs
at the café, neither fully present
nor gone, his mind cut loose
from his heart
like a dinghy in cold, still water.
And she felt the weight of caring
had been lifted
from her. She felt she would soon know
a freedom some of her friends knew,
a hundred options in the bittersweet dark.
It was late August. Neither blamed anything
on how the soul idles
in that relentless hum of days.
Everything's true, they agreed, smiling;
if something didn't
happen, it certainly would in time.
A black fly landed in her hair, and he
swept it away.
A sudden breeze uplifted their napkins,
but that was all there was of action
It was time to go;
one of them, soon, would say so.
- Stephen Dunn, 1996