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.