by Steve King
All rights reserved
Her eyes, and only those,
out of all the others on the street—
held distant in the depth of thought,
cold as stars,
caught up in a fastness out of reach,
so very far from words,
focusing on nothing
as they passed.
I wondered if it was for me alone
to feel a sadness there.
Though I have sometimes tried,
I have never been the one to answer why—
why there must be sadness in the world,
or why it should have gathered on our street,
crying out through all contingent cares;
why it should have settled as it did,
this alone of every near despair,
prisoned in the confines of that soul,
reaching through the windows of those eyes.
Nor had I consolation for those eyes.
I inflected only
the ordeal of witness
all the while the darkness passed,
a current coursing quickly
through quieter tides,
brushing at the stream
of unsensed travelers
moving close beside.
There was nothing to allay
the hold of sadness,
no word to wrest a gladness from the air,
no way to touch that trouble,
or amend brooding care.
I wondered of the troubles
caught up in the train
of that determined step,
now hurrying away;
so quick, but such a silly race to run:
as if a trouble might be just a thing
to be abandoned and undone—
whose ending might be forfeited
without regard for how it had begun.
As if a sadness might be satisfied
by quick exits and hard designs—
or simply by the click of heels
beating out the tattoo
of some unrelieved goodbye.