To Petra, Wherever She May Be

Late afternoon in early September,

You sat on a bench

And scowled at gray sky,

Watching summer pale into autumn.

The tree outside shivered in the brisk air,

Shedding leaves like wet birds

That flutter to the ground.

And for a moment,

The tilt of your chin

And the sway of the trunk

Caused branches to knot and twist,

Their tapering limbs like blood vessels

That fanned across the reflection

Of your cheek in the glass.

The black bark of your arteries and veins

Pulsed with the sudden breath of your vitality.

Did you know that your face

Glazed upon a tree in windowpane

Became the most real thing to me?

Like I could trace the outline

Of your circuitry and curved cheek in the cool glass

And draw from within you

The immense strength that drove you so?

But precious months trickled away,

And your body betrayed your heart,

Sighing away despondently

On a bleak December day.

But your face in the tree

Is permanently seared into my eyes.

As if I could sit at that window

And see your face instead of mine.