It was a day of blue sky a few clouds
showing a possible hint of snow on a
late November day of nothing to do, no
one to see, no one to love. A phone call
to a friend--no, an acquaintance for she
failed all those tests of friendship: the 4 am
call, money with no questions, and listening,
most of all listening for friends don't talk.
The arrangements were made quickly.
About an hour, please very casual, I
have one thing I want. Lunch after, fine,
nothing to do. We can linger long or be
on our way. She'll drive. Her friend (acquaintance)
makes her nervous running up on cars,
braking suddenly, not looking. She dresses
quickly with the practiced movements of
one never interrupted. No need to search
for things moved by another. No need to
stop to answer a question irritatingly simple
and probably unneeded. She wanted perfection
and she had it. Long ago she began after a week
of retreat to live in the present the past a
long distance away. The future--well, that's
for the rest of her life. Today creeps or
races at its own pace. So good. It would
have been an hour for she was always
on time but truth be known she was always
early. Waiting around the corner she checked
e-mail and five minutes later started driving.
Her friend (acquaintance) was waiting at
the curb. Small talk on the short drive to
Nordstrom's. No sharp edge to the conversation
just mindful catching up on mutual friends
who'd be glad to know nothing was said.
All is for the best. This is the best of all
possible worlds. Well, I just have the
one thing so a little browsing can't be
bad. Then off to Point of View for what
I need. Together, sure, or we can divide
and conquer. Like a dream, a sound, a
consciousness of a sound, a tune "Someone
To Watch Over Me." Fast memory of a
movie while still talking but something
crowds out everything, a riff, a way
no way, no way, no way the thought comes.
Stopping she looks over to the escalator.
The piano is there. Her ex-husband is
there playing as only he can on that tune.
Her friend--now suddenly she is a friend--
notices her stopping. Wait, she tells her.
Wait a minute. I know that man and yes
he would be upset if I didn't say hello.
Her friend looks over and watches her.
approach. It is not a confident approach.
She looks back and then speaks. No, no
just here for a week for the gig. No, no
not drinking. Twenty years sober. No,
not married live alone three states away.
She goes back to her friend now curious.
No, just an old friend who had a problem.
A long time ago they had been close. Yes,
yes she is okay just a bit of a surprise.
Her friend walks ahead and misses the tear.
Tonight there will be many of them.
Nothing she will ever do will make today go away.
Robert Halleck is a retired banker living in Del Mar, CA with his wife Terry and 3 retired racing Greyhounds. He has been writing poetry for over 50 years. He published two collections of poems: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE and OTHER PLACES OTHER TIMES. Recent poems of his have appeared in The Boston Poetry Review, The Camel Saloon, San Diego Poetry Annual, The Scapegoat Review, Jellyfish Whispers, and other journals.