As I sat by myself in the park,
on a bench among trees
a man walked up to me.
Spritely and slim, well-dressed,
he stepped quickly
upon the fallen leaves and asked,
“Can I help you read?”
I laughed as he approached;
indicating the books by my side,
I said “well, sure — I have three, actually.”
“Three?” said he.
He landed himself squarely
next to me,
occupying the bench
“You could sit on my lap,” he joked,
and taking a book in each hand,
continued on —
“We could read one over here,
one over here,
and one in the middle.”
I was at a loss for words,
but he was full of them,
this respectable-looking man
who could have fathered my father.
With a hand on my shoulder,
he set down my books.
Chuckling, he hopped back up
from the bench.
“I’d better go,”
the man told me.
“If my wife sees me here,
she’ll throw me into the river.”
I laughed, for lack of any
more appropriate response.
I began to wish him a good day,
but he had not yet had his say.
He spoke the way newspapermen spoke
in old black and white films —
“—‘course, as beautiful as she is,
she’s not as beautiful as you are —“
which he punctuated with
a rapid fire
“wow wow wow.”
I could not make this up if I tried.
I blushed and thought of his wife,
likely far older than me,
who should not have to suffer
I saw in my mind her sun-spotted skin,
mottled with age, crinkled
around the corners of her eyes
I imagined hair whose color
has been leached by the years,
and I thought to myself,
It will be a long while before it is I
who will be as beautiful as she.
I should have told him so.
I shoot the breeze with the bees
harvesting pollen from autumn weeds
for their late season honey.
I wish them good luck,
make it home to your hives safely –
Cold temperatures are near,
huddle up with your families.