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Hearing Again, After a Lapse of Years


Hearing again, after a lapse of years,

your name spoken aloud among old friends,

I think of seventeen, the salt of tears

and the long silence after sorrow ends.

Whether you've grown to joy or gone to seed,

middle age taming your long Viking bones,

still dreaming dreams or settling for mere deed,

down to one life, or none—are all unknown.


A wild turn taken, or a fair road missed:

how shall I think of you, after so long?

We promised all we were, but never kissed,

and now it hardly matters, right or wrong.

But once you said, "Whatever else we do,

we will remember this." And that was true.


                                      Rhina P. Espaillat



© Rhina P. Espaillat; originally published in Orphic

Lute; reprinted by permission of the author.