To S. After Years Apart
Dusk. The horse no one calls
begins to amble home from the fields.

I open the door of time
and breathe the cool, sweet autumn.

Then I go again to find the old woman
who lives just beyond the turn
in the road. She has a potion
that cures the ailments of love.

Half our lives we’ve been sick
with a passion that bent our bones
the way a child bends a sapling in play,
pulling its leaves to the ground.
By now nothing can untangle
the branches.

But as I knew, the old woman is gone,
her house long ago abandoned.
Night will come soon and dark solitude.
I’ll sit by the fire and watch
the wood of fate burn. It takes
years to turn to ash.

Then our confused and inconsolable
passion will twist itself
around my heart like smoke
drifting from a chimney.
Betty Adcock Tells Me There Are 1,086 Meanings Of The Word “Romantic”
at first this was hard to believe, but once she
had reached number 29 i knew
          we were in for a major afternoon.
as that meaning
          required, i took the hand of a seemingly sweet
young woman on my left and skipped a full half mile
          through spring gardens, almost forgetting that Betty
          was still working on the list.

rushing back, she’d come to number 100,
          and i felt the
          breath of tragedy sweep by me like a bus exhaust.
i fell down on the busy sidewalk and was
          repeatedly trampled by hordes of unfeeling busy
                                        who preferred to continue on their
respective ways rather than consider
the lost beauty
          hidden beneath the mask of my infirmities.

at meaning 215 i ran up the stairs into
          my childhood house and embraced my mother,
          who was busy preparing the meatloaf
          and who smelled like onions and paprika, an aroma
          that has haunted me all my life whenever
i touch a woman’s belly

by the time i got outside again, since i had
          stopped to consume a plate of meatloaf
          and potatoes,
Betty had already gotten up to meaning 784,
          which involved the enthusiastic,
                                        even desperate plunging
                                                            naked into a country pond that contained
          somewhere in or on its muddy bottom a rare object
— coin, jewel, or whatever — that had been tossed
          there by the incredibly beautiful — wow! — mysterious
          woman who was watching, idly, on the opposite
          shore and she too
                                                                                                                        quite naked.

i never found it, but wet, with muddy feet and a bit
          tired, i returned as Betty
          arrived at the final meaning,
          number 1,086: a spontaneous inner vibration that
          lifts one
                                                                                          slowly but surely off the face
of this
          complicated earth because of the perception of
          a resonance with all Nature, clouds included.
bye Betty, I waved from the top
                                                                                                                         of a local oak
bye Betty.