On roads within the river’s reach
There comes a careless turn on each,
Where you can see, below, the town.
I’ve often wondered what I’d find,
A parlor game of a certain kind,
If I took the exit, right and down:
Along with steam there ought to be
A red brick mill—a factory
That was built to last, that lost the fight—
On a River Street that’s never far
From water and a corner bar,
By a rusting bridge, by a blinking light.
I’d settle there on a vacant stool,
Try not to look the foreign fool,
And when the snowfall comes that night,
I’d find a girl with auburn hair;
A girl who might take up the dare,
Deserving better, by her right.
We’d hear a distant whistle rise,
See glasses drained with weary sighs,
And talk in earnest of our plight.
I’d ask her then to leave with me;
To cross the bridge where we’d be free
Of limits, and that blinking light.
But when she hears the whistle blow,
And glances at the snow that sweeps
Down empty streets as her town sleeps,
The girl will shake her head and say:
"A part of me so wants to stay,
Another me would surely go."
I’d like to answer to her fear—
Another me would surely care
Enough to stop and visit there—
But the road and I are in pursuit
Of other ends; the game is moot.
I understand you well, my dear.