©Playing A Lover’s Game
All Rights Reserved
She looked up; I looked away.
Such beauty, there was no stopping
my curiosity. I gazed her way again.
I should have been a gentlemen,
refused to let her stand, not permit
her to lean against the back wall—
almost hiding in that corner—
rocking gently with the motion of the train.
Her dull, curly, blondish-dyed locks
fell low over one eye as she
inclined her head, a rumpled,
translucent blouse, that covered
youthful breasts primly tucked into her
black skirt that stopped just above
her knees kept my wandering eyes
assessing her enthusiastically.
But, it was the curve of her wrist
on the baggage rack above her head
and the turn her hips as she tried
to balance her slight weight
against the wall of the train.
As an artist, I found the entire
scene accidentally aesthetic and
wanted the enchantress for my model.
I turned toward the window
to stare out and to daydream.
The glare from the red flashing
lights at the train-crossing road
cast the passengers’ reflections
as grey ghosts rounded off with
no form or shape and moving as
though dancing under a strobe.
Soft bellied, balding, and old
enough to be her grandfather,
I tried to keep from looking for her
image in the window, to not look
at her one more time. My
eyes had a mind of their own
and they caught her staring at me.
I looked at her; she turned her head.
A smile curved my dry, chapped lips
when I caught her sidelong glance,
but I looked away and recalled
playing this same game as a child.
There was a chill in the air that
settled in my lungs when I inhaled.
How pathetic I was. How stupid.
An old man playing a lover’s game.
The steady, low rumble of the sea,
like holding a conch to your ear,
that once was background noise,
soothed and calmed my racing
heart with its rhythmic clackety-
click and rocking motion. Will
took over and before I knew what,
I found myself searching the corner.
Her face tilted upward into the light,
she smiled, her shoulders lifted and
her back straightened before
she looked down again. It was only
a slight movement, but one
registered to memory, a movement
I knew I would paint one day.
I wished it to be today, tomorrow.
There was no way to stop my mind
from calculating the slant of
her shoulders, the bright, almost
angelic color of her cheeks. Her
eyes scanned the length of our car
and then came to rest on me. Her
mouth, a sensual mouth, twisted just
a little; it was almost a smile.
My presence of mind was no
different than when I was twenty
or so; it was the equipment below
that no longer functioned the same.
I closed my eyes, just a moment.
When my heavy lids rose, tired
eyes searched. She was gone. Lost to
the night. A dream I slept through.
The low noise in my throat disturbed
my thoughts, a soft groan, perhaps
a word. My world became small
and cold, and memories of a life
gone, of a love buried, repeated, with
the clackety-click… remember Mary
remember Mary remember Mary.
I wiped away the lone tear—Mary.
(young girl on a train, by Kay Crain and Adolph von Menzel’s Man Yawning in a Train Compartment)