A third-floor apartment, full of emotion—
lilies on the table, a coat on a chair,
and a man standing by a fireplace,
where flames are still crackling—
A woman, working at a desk,
writing a book without knowing the end
and glancing at the flames
as if unsure they were blazing.
They were glowing, but not blazing.
The eyes of the woman met the eyes of the man,
and there was no conviction in their meeting,
for something was unspoken, something was unclear
and neither knew whether to speak, whether to stay silent,
or whether to watch the other walk away.
Would they do that?
The man had another woman in his mind,
a woman who would not have sat at a desk,
who would not have held a mouse
as if afraid of what would happen if she let it go—
a woman who would have run to welcome him,
turned a designer home into an island of love
and closed the blinds against the twilight clouds.
Does she know this? The one you married.
She gave him a fleeting, troubled glance
and then smiled, briefly, tremulously,
and in the poignant curve of her lips,
he lost the words he might have spoken,
the words not yet formed, not yet ready,
which, once pronounced could not be taken back.
But the smile vanished as the phone rang, and …
He thought he was forgotten
in the stream of words that suggested
he was not completely in her thoughts,
had never really been in her thoughts.
He might have been a rival to the wallpaper,
a statue on a criss-crossed carpet,
a pattern he was not sure she wanted,
He missed the other woman,
always at the back of his mind,
always loving him in a different way,
a less impassioned way, but a comfortable way,
a tender, uneventful way that had less rapture
but more … companionship.
But she was not there …
The phone went dead, and her eyes
turned to him with fear that he might leave.
In the uncertainty of her gaze, he saw only
the autumn leaves clinging to the branches,
afraid of falling, still red and gold,
but fading with September’s end
and barely visible in the enveloping mist that
swirled to the music of the dark earth and the
Far away, the seagull rose from the sanded shore
and flew towards the moonlit sea
where it vanished over a horizon
far beyond his powers to see.
I teach Sanskrit and Vedic philosophy at university level in Iowa. I have published several poems in online journals, the latest being Mulberry Literary and Literary Yard, and my nonfiction book, An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence, was published in 2020 by Changemakers Books. It was the #1 bestselling book for Changemakers Books for 2020 and made it to the end of year John Hunt Publishing 2020 Bestsellers list.