This sense, the opening gate,
a wrought iron groan between manubrium
and xiphoid as I step beneath
the arbor to the path is not exactly loneliness,
though it may be what’s left
once a sieve sifts the sad out from the lonesome.
But still, alone and watching the inchworm earnestly climb its thread
in the space above the trail, freeze when I shift its tether
to rest on the knot of an oak, drop
to leaf litter below, I feel
what I feel walking alone on a beach at sunrise, collecting
shells and thinking of my mother, thinking of dreaming of
walking with her, the light still new and sand dollars washed
in from a storm.
Or what I feel, alone in the last descent
between Asheville and Atlanta, ears still rebounding
from the altitude, heart left behind
on the cobblestones of Wall Street, between
Flat Iron and Laughing Seed.
Or, tucked between nostalgia and regret, the last,
solitary look back at the convention hall,
fantastic microcosm of unmade connections, its ratios always
noticed and never mined, a shared language of shared passions
losing its lexicon as all its speakers scatter,
a world undone until another year.
A sensation to nourish like an egg, this ache,
this afterimage from a flash of joy,
which blinks like the ten o’clock sunlight on the creek,
bobs like the brief flare of two periwinkle blossoms
among the ferns, snares like the vine finding spare
footing in the bark.