I imagine Mary as she kneels in the rough grass,
angular face a glory of attention
focused as a praying mantis crosses her forearm.
We are on the path
where it circles the old mallard pond (a shortcut
to the library) and though I began in solitude,
choose to walk
the rustling, twittering, sloshing silence
with a companion of chance.
She points to the top of a rusty pine
where a Red-tailed Hawk surveys
the evening landscape. A tempest of crows
clatters about like falling bones
till our vigilant guardian rises in irritation,
disappears among the tangled treetops.
Mary is perceptive and bold as fantasy, invites me
to share my new poem, smiles warm and genuine
as I speak of turtles, raptors and an unclouded heart.
When we reach the old dock, Mary begins to talk
of another unnamed pond where the sun sets
and spreading egret wings placed in measured lines
challenge us to find our own reflection.
We pause at a rush of cattails and Mary
confesses her inspiration was a sunrise,
the only avian presence, a scattering of coots.
It seems but a few steps
before the path divides and even in imagination
I cannot ask Mary to follow any path but her own.
My books are overdue so I bear left into town
while Mary continues down along the water's edge.