Collections of moments are, by custom, sequenced temporally.
Before and after; cause and effect:
a pair of instants is deemed adjacent
if one immediately follows the other.

In such a series you open a door
and descend two steps to a damp brick walk
behind an iron railing. It is October:
pale yellow and orange leaves spatter the brickwork.
As you raise an umbrella against the drizzle,
she emerges behind you. Holding a pair of gloves
in one hand, she turns to you and smiles.

But other arrangements are possible.
In a story made out of whole cloth,
the reader normally follows the woof,
even though the warp is equally available.
By this method, neighboring threads
may show her arching an eyebrow and turning away,
or, having donned her gloves, staring grimly at her feet.

Sometimes the back of the building opens onto a park;
at others, onto shaded headstones. In certain instances
the door is painted pale gray instead of cream.
At one extreme her eyes are shining,
and she laughs affectionately as she speaks your name.
At the other you stand alone and resolute.
Umbrella already raised, you watch the crows
collecting on the railing down the way
before you stride off in the opposite direction.

In some versions the sidewalk is empty
and the rain has stopped.
A golden glow appears in the mist above the trees,
alluding to the sun, but no one is there to see it.

October 8, 1998

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