Meeting a Stranger

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audio of Elizabeth Wager's poem, Meeting a Stranger

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Elizabeth Wager

Meeting a Stranger

 

        —Cass Park, Ithaca

      He asks, You have some food, some change
      to spare? On morning runs, I have
      no pockets, my house key tucked into my shoe.
      I’m sorry, no, I say. To make my point,
      I gesture at myself, as if to add,

      there’s nothing here I can give you,
      or anyone. Violets, tissue-paper torn
      into confetti, scatter through the grass
      beside the trail. You’re very selfish: all
      he says before he turns and walks away.

      I run again. The pounding of
      my feet, my blood, distract me from the fact
      that words are sometimes all I have to spare,
      all that I can give to you, to anyone.
      I lunge into the morning. April sunlight

      folds against Cayuga Lake,
      shore rimmed in gold. Yellow-tipped
      forsythia bend beneath the weight of sky
      to touch the fragile ground. I do not stop.
      My house key bites my foot with every step.