Cobblestone street in a city

Solitary walks

There is a path I take when going nowhere.

I’ve been stepping ‘round the bend a while now
on solitary walks by dog parks and the liquor store
(you know the one), heading to the other nowhere,
simply to go, waiting for a turn of fortunes,
when around the bend comes you.

We thud into each other as I imagine day-dreaming
planets do. A while in shock– “I’m sorry,”
I trip over words as I have just tripped
over you. And then, I berate myself because it’s what I do
to ease the way: “I didn’t see you there. If I had
known, I would have picked another corner or
skipped the walk or left the city altogether.”

“It’s entirely my fault.”

“I’m sorry,” I say again, before you have a chance
to reject me, because apologies are seductive in pairs.
“I’m sorry to have cut you off —
but before I let you go, where are you going?”

It’s an odd question, I know, but
I’m tired of my pilgrimage to nowheres.
You don’t see it, but I’m screaming at the moment,
berating that fool there, that oafish me
and his teeth-gritting crusade ‘round all the wrong corners
and into empty places and all the destinations
chosen simply so I have a place to go.

“If, maybe you could direct me to the nearest
point of purpose, or a landmark on the way,
or if you know a park of satisfaction I could visit… ?”

And you smile, politely, as some do who have
the time, and tell me something clinical:
to the store, the theater, the office. The usual
places where purposes contrive.

“Thank you much. Sorry again to have thrown you
off course,” I say hoping you’ll stay a moment longer
because my desperation reeks like cigarette smoke in
a first-class cabin.

You do not. Instead, I see you walk hurriedly ’round
the bend, then look left, and right, and stop.
You go left, but I don’t think you meant it.
You grimace, and despite my empathetic better self, I smile.

It’s no wonder, among all the labyrinthine paths
and corners turned in this upside-down Wonderland,
and all the queens and kings my age has crowned,
we hardly know where we are going; we hardly know
where we are.

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