Lines of Force

The pleasure of walking a long time on the mountain
without seeing a human being, much less speaking to one.
And the pleasure of speaking when one is suddenly there.
The upgrade from wary to tolerant to convivial,
so unlike two brisk bodies on a busy street
for whom a sudden magnetic attraction
is a mistake, awkwardness, something to be sorry for.
But to loiter, however briefly, in a clearing
where two paths intersect in the matrix of chance.
To stop here speaking the few words that come to mind.
A greeting. Some earnest talk of weather.
A little history of the day.
To stand there then and say nothing.
To slowly look around past each other.
Notice the green tang pines exude in the heat
and the denser sweat of human effort.
To have nothing left to say
but not wanting just yet to move on.
The tension between you, a gossamer thread.
It trembles in the breeze, holding
the thin light it transmits.
To be held in that
line of force, however briefly,
as if it were all that mattered.
And then to move on.
With equal energy, with equal pleasure.

Thomas Centolella, "Lines of Force" from Terra Firma.  Copyright © 1990 by Thomas Centolella.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press,,
Source: Terra Firma (Copper Canyon Press, 1990)
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