by Steve Rubinstein
I was already worried when he
took my hand to wipe at his tears.
By then through the wall-high windows
I noticed wet splatters, sleet, painted streets.
He looked me over first to see if I was waiting
on a friend, on a train, for him to move further away.
The rain would not stop so he stood there dripping
cursing the night;
I would not talk so instead he sat down.
October, selfish, had stolen the last bit of sun
from the stripped down days left of autumn.
I did not tell him, would not talk, did not ask when
sun would come again, where I could see northern lights.
And if I remember anything it was the sorrowful tempo
of Swedish laid out in wet air when he figured
I spoke not a word. I have to, he said, no other way,
get the next train to Stockholm
or Gothenberg out by the sea, find some work.
He pulled out a picture, glossy and cracked,
from a too-full pocket with his one free hand
held it on his trembling knee and wept
turned back to me and stared.
I looked out the window at nothing but night
glanced back at him with what little I knew
said, she’s beautiful, you must be quite proud.