“Something Like an Aria” by Steven Barza

Steven Barza


All through the springtime afternoon,
he has been office-bound, duty-bound,
cuffed with e-mail memos.
Now he is homeward-bound.
On the sidewalk outside the organic food store
a beautiful woman with clear-to-the-horizon eyes
and cascading hair passes by him.
She is wearing a flowing flowered skirt, an open-neck muslin shirt,
and a bright turquoise pendant.
She is carrying a jug of water and a bag of groceries
out to the big blue van with the out-of-state plate,
with Route 66 emblazoned on its side,
with roadmaps taped to its windows.
He stands stock-still watching her
as she loads her provisions.
He too was once a nomad,
embarking on quixotic quests.
Walking to the driver’s door,
the woman looks at him
and smiles. He smiles, belatedly.
He sees the van vanish. The day is ebbing.
Caprice has failed him.
Something like an aria sounds in his soul
for lost years,
open spaces,
failures of nerve,
for the touch and love of a woman who wanders.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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