(Pema Lama/Unsplash)

I had never met a mind so perfectly
intoxicant, so redolent, so like a grove
of orange trees. Blossoms dazzling, but shaken
easily, maybe never to become fruit.

Some days our estrangement seems a simple case
of love cut down to fit
mature and separate realms, shaped by no-fault
circumstance, as way led on to way.

Other times I see my lips pressed hard in the judging look
we hated on our mothers, when boys brought home
did not remove their hats, nor ask to be excused.

If I try to see my friend from higher ground
she’s wearing her fawn-colored coat outside the sorry
pizza place. Or sobbing under the bridge.

I see her waiting for the green line early, freshly
showered, starting again.
How she really tried. How she cannot help it.

Published in the September 2023 issue: View Contents

Leslie Williams is the author of three poetry collections: Matters for You Alone (forthcoming from Slant Books in 2024), Even the Dark, and Success of the Seed Plants. Her work has appeared in the Christian Century, Liberties, Image, America, the Kenyon Review, Poetry, and others. She lives near Boston.

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