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Unmet


ISSUE:  Spring 1997

Woman in last night’s dream wearing a pink sweater

Her laugh is gentle and original
I don’t know her unless I knew her 20 years ago
Call her Molly or Karen
She has a friend named Edgar, he is lanky
with eccentric hair, old clothes and bright yellow shoelaces
He is very relaxed about car trouble
Molly or Karen reads aloud to him often
from books of Italian and Irish folk tales
She knows a lot about diseases in history
such as tuberculosis and typhoid
She is very good at the Asian game Go
Edgar is not so good but he tries to improve
There is an assurance in the way he carries the name Edgar
There is an old scar on his forehead
Molly or Karen loves Ethel Waters and can sing a bit like her
Edgar reads Pushkin and Goethe with great concentration
He is beautiful in his concentration
as Molly or Karen is beautiful when she sings. . . .

They are not lovers, but they may be five years hence
or may have been 12 years ago
The ambiguity of this is an enrichment, not a paralyzing tension
Edgar plays for her his old record Hillbilly Jazz:
funny fast unexpected fiddling
They know life is good and they try to love it well
They are not cowed by petty officials of institutions
nor by upper-echelon officials either
(They both have money troubles
but these do not flatten their brains or fog their eyes)
They have a competence about life but they know
something matters much more than competence
and they would look for it in your eyes, or my eyes
They live in Rochester or St. Louis or Nashville
and I don’t know them—
I might have met a friend of Edgar’s years ago
but I don’t know them—
Edgar with his bright yellow shoelaces
Molly or Karen whose voice on the phone
heard by someone she hasn’t seen in 20 years
is the sound of what really matters—
I need to meet these people

but I am 43 and I am afraid
I am not going to meet them or not soon enough.

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