Today's poem is by Alice Friman

The Exile

A woman takes the same walk
each afternoon. A three-mile loop
of country road. Clockwise one day,
counterclockwise the next.
Monday her eyes are raised, Tuesday
level, Wednesday down. In six days
she's looked at everything then starts again.

She examines pebbles, acorns. Drops them
and moves on. A cocoon, snails, thistles,
one red feather. Searches through
last year's dump of leaves. Runs her hands
over shelves of fungi. Rummages in ditches
woozy with September—Jewelweed
and pink Lady's Thumbs. Pokes with a stick.

Only the day after late autumn's
first dust of snow when she discovers
a set of footprints running to meet her
does she stop, turn, slip her feet into them,
matching part for part, like Cinderella
stuck to the image of the absent one.

What music does she hear,
swaying between right foot and left,
knuckles ramming a stopper in her mouth?

This is the story of the clarinetist
lost in Ravel's Bolero, knowing only
to repeat his one allotted phrase louder
and louder. Violins plucking at their itch.
Mayday Mayday sobbing in the reed.

Copyright © 2002 Alice Friman All rights reserved
from Zoo
The University of Arkansas Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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