David T. Strong
CARRYING TWO PACKS
She appeared on the platform of the Seventh Street Subway
a large pack on her back and another hung in front,
a young woman carrying two hiking packs looking for a northbound train.
And I remember a love of many years ago when a young woman
told me that we would never meet again, so I had taken to a high trail
hiking, clawing, pulling, dragging my way above timber line
seeking the widest vision that I could contain to fill this emptiness,
up, up, ever higher toward the uttermost peak, to the summit until a
darkening blue black sky revealed a breathtaking view of another world
promontories, rocks, deep ravines, gashed open slides, stretching forever
among an oncoming night.
My hollowness filled with the greatness of it all until satisfied
I stampeded down the mountain into darkening forest shadows
like a wild animal only to grasp that I had left my pack far above.
Whether to make perilous return or walk on and in that frozen moment
another person appeared on the high trail,
a young woman carrying two packs, one on her back and one slung before
and though I could not see her face I knew it was the one who had said,
“We shall never meet again” and this dream has spoken for our love,
repeating, returning, rerunning again and again until now I understand
what she has done for me.
—from Rattle #21, Summer 2004