Today's poem is by James Shea


I was sad I was not the young boy
who passed me each day the way

water carries a ship, but I was happy
I saw him and this contradiction

saddened me, but I was pleased with myself
for having noticed it. I said, Hello—

This startled him and worried me
for I thought I'll never know him

intimately enough, nor fully learn
his fears. But I felt as one who waits

to unfold from a crowded train:
unsure where to go but having the time

to be unsure. We took a picture
together and he left for grade school

and I left for the States. I remember
his funny stroll and his curiosity

at the shop windows and the cars parked
in his way along the sidewalk. They

were less obstructions and more examples
of how the world protrudes out at one.

I have my picture that distorts us, of course,
but what I recall most now are thoughts

of her then and our decision to never
speak again. Why do I say it like this now

to myself? I regret not sleeping with her
the way one regrets not stealing

an umbrella. I remember the seashells
she gave to me and the ones she kept.

I remember trying to kiss her on the bridge
and her smiling like it was a joke.

What are the limits here? The lesson
from the boy? I'm thinking—

a cloak of birds leaving a tree,
an empty field shorn for my welcoming.

Copyright © 2003 James Shea All rights reserved
from Jubilat
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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