Incident in the Park

Working back from the moment I rose off the bench,

dashed like a wave and tempted to slap him,


when three times yes, his question was sex,

I hadn’t gotten it wrong;


before he patted the seat,

before the sequined, leaf-brocaded water,


he waited for me in a patch of sun. That Thursday

he’d called me kind in his halting English,


a delicate something suspended between us.

Wednesday, he ventured questions about my life.


Tuesday, he was a smiling traveler, briefly landed,

wiling away a month of mornings


here in our lakeside park. Monday by chance,

a man out of nowhere extending a greeting—


How might a stranger make a friend?  Begging my pardon:

that’s where I want it to end.



Kathleen Flenniken is the 2012 – 2014 Washington State Poet Laureate.  Her books are Plume (University of Washington Press, 2012), a meditation on the Hanford Nuclear Site, and Famous (University of Nebraska Press, 2006), winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and named a Notable Book by the American Library Association.


Issue #18 December 2012
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