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Passing

 

We met against the foot of Cabot Hill,

Near three oíclock, in a sudden squall of snow.

Alone since I had shut Old Frenchís gate,

I saw no need to rush a friendly greeting.

 

And he agreed.

 

He kept in silence down the path, while I

Kept coming up with something I might say;

If wishing could not make him go away,

I hoped that he could bear the quiet less.

 

I folded first.

 

"Bit cold?" I ventured to a hat, a face.

"Well," he slowed down a step, but didnít stop,

"Not all that bad a day for January;

The kids are still about on Higginís Pond."

 

I nodded back.

 

Comforted by the thought that he had been

Where I was going, I began a question,

But he had passed, a careful distance formed,

And did not turn around to hear me start.

 

Then he was gone;

 

A cameo behind a curtain white,

He strode into the deepest part of winter,

Another ghost returning home that night.

I could have told him much about the way.

 

He didnít ask.

 

As I moved further up the path, and heard

The first faint filing sounds of skates on iceó

And felt again the sleep of buried woods

Not all that close to homeóI was glad we met

 

In passing.

 

Robert Crawford

 

 

© 1999; originally printed in The Larcom Review.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

 

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