Chance Meeting

I know him, that man
walking- toward me up the crowded street
of the city, I have lived with him
seven years now, I know his fast stride,
his windy wheatfield hair, his hands thrust   
deep in his jacket pockets, hands
that have known my body, touched
its softest part, caused its quick shudders   
and slow releasings, I have seen his face   
above my face, his mouth smiling, moaning   
his eyes closed and opened, I have studied
his eyes, the brown turning gold at the centers,   
I have silently watched him lying beside me   
in the early morning, I know his loneliness,   
like mine, human and sad,
but different, too, his private pain
and pleasure I can never enter even as he comes   
closer, past trees and cars, trash and flowers,   
steam rising from the manhole covers,   
gutters running with rain, he lifts his head,   
he sees me, we are strangers again,   
and a rending music of desire and loss—
I don’t know him—courses through me,
and we kiss and say, It’s good to see you,
as if we haven’t seen each other in years   
when it was just a few hours ago,
and we are shy, then, not knowing   
what to say next.

“Chance Meeting” by Susan Browne from Buddha’s Dogs. By permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.
Source: Buddha’s Dogs (Four Way Books, 2004)
More Poems by Susan Browne