Parallel Paths

Today you're lucky, in love with your wife 
for the first time in weeks, both of you 
out for a walk in the overgrown park. 
No need to hold hands
like that sadly animate couple 
you can see through a clearing 
on a parallel path.
                She lets
go and turns from him. You notice 
how in their weather misery hangs 
faintly familiar in the cold shadows. 
As if having recently unlearned 
the habit of empathy, the sky 
over their forest seems to laugh 
at whatever they say, a woman 
turning from a man, their dog 
flexed on a heap of duff 
pretending to study the sparrows. 
Now the woman feigns confidence, 
stepping gracefully
away. Two lives severed 
          Such a capricious drug, 
the present. Look for instance 
at this woman's immediate future. 
Like yourself once, she will forget 
the names of old haunts, her voice 
a clever imposter, someone else 
filling her mouth, not with words, 
but vocables intending her own worth. 
Or right now: how all of these thoughts 
have occurred to you in a flash.
When you look up, your wife's vanished. 
But really she's there, of course, 
off the path, among the ancient 
waist-high grasses, holding out to you 
a single mutable wildflower 
burning in its own ochre light. 
From here to that flower exist 
no guarantees. Best to get on with it.

From In the Evening of No Warning by Kevin Clark. Copyright © 2002 by Kevin Clark. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.