I refuse to believe your forgetfulness, as if you didn’t have an epiphany
when I had an epiphany. We hadn't spoken for some time, your brother had
just won a competition welding bicycles onto the shells of refurbished Impalas, and
Foster Wallace had just hanged himself, though we hadn’t yet heard
and this wasn’t the epiphany. I watched a man in rags on the opposite bank sway in tides,
hunching, unhunching, and you wore such a sensible scarf
for September, paisleys like pond scum rippling out across your neck.
You say you don’t remember the geese’s noisy irreverence or the birch dropping
their gold under our feet, mocking us. I took just enough
steps to keep up, all the while stealing
your private clichés: your self-sacrificing ‘life lessons,’ your 'care deeply’
which you always claimed meant something
other than I meant. But this wasn’t it. I watched you look for his eyes
across the water, because when you see strangers seeing you, you want to wave.
You want to hold him there with you, but while finding his eyes you missed how his arms
arched toward each other, over his head, a wobbling circle,
as if embracing himself or the air. This wasn’t it either.
It was the moment of imbalance: you continuing ahead
in silence while I paused, and saw our man emerge
from the shade: two Canadian geese arching their obsidian
necks away from each other, fighting over something
solid floating out with the tide.