Spread wide, I drape the arbor
With scent and scattered petals
Shadow evocation of little girls with
Frill filled baskets.
Bored, alone, I gaze across the path,
Over the stone wall
To the St Johns
That now deserted waterway
Once a hotbed of commerce.
A sculler crew plies their craft
Stroke stroke stroke
The murmur of the drummaster beating galley time.
A child stands on the wall,
Her mother paralyzed with fear
Until a stranger throws an arm out,
Swings the child to safety
And carries her off to the sprawling banyon tree.
I hear him say, climb here. Mama, come, she’s fine.
The stranger approaches me
Takes a seat on my concrete bench
Dabbles his toes in lily pond
Staring out at the amber sky.
He turns to the woman,
The woman I hadn’t notices in my sculling revery.
She clasps an open copy of Virgil’s Aeneid.
The murmuring was her voice, slow Latin,
Rounding the words.
He turns to her, intent on her profile,
the curve of her nose
the length of her fingers on the page.
Leans over and brushes the scar on her shoulder with his lips.
I drop some petals on her book
And close my vines around them.