Field Guide

by Tracy K. Smith

You were you, but now and then you’d change.
Sometimes your face was some or another his,
And when I stood facing it, your body flinched.
You wanted to be alone – left alone. You waded
Into streets dense with people: women wearing
Book bags, or wooden beads. Girls holding smoke
A moment behind red mouths then pushing it out,
Posing, not breathing it in. You smiled
Like a man who knows how to crack a safe.

When it got to the point where you were only
Him, I had to get out from under it. Sit up
And put my feet on the floor. Haven’t I lived this
Enough times over? It’s morning, but the light’s still dark.
There’s rain in the garden, and a dove repeating
Where? Are? You? It takes awhile, but a voice
Finally answers back. A long phrase. Over
And over. Urgently. Not tiring even after the dove
Seems to be appeased.

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