Being the Way That I Am

(from Within My Illusions)

I was sitting on a bench by the river,
enjoying a quiet moment between tasks
and some time to myself.

I was practicing a new way of seeing,
relaxing my eyes until the ground appeared to pulse
like a heartbeat.

I was writing this poem in my head
when a man called out to me.
“Don’t be so weary,” he said.

“I’m not weary,” I replied,
“Just thinking.”

He was sitting on top of a picnic table,
looking out at the water
and also at me.

He was wearing a New York Mets cap
and I commented, “I’m going to New York
and you’re wearing a New York hat.”

“You want my hat?” he asked.

“No,” I said, “I’m going to New York
and you’re wearing a New York hat
and I just noticed that
and I wanted to say something about it.”

He smiled a gold, toothy smile.
“My mom is from New York,
but I’ve never been.”
“It’s a different place,” I told him.
“My mom is from Brooklyn,” he said.
“I’m going to see my sister.
She lives in Brooklyn too.”
But perhaps a different Brooklyn.

I looked beyond him to the street,
to where my car was parked
in front of a city office building
where I’d spent time in a meeting earlier.
“Enjoy the springtime,” I said and headed
up the small hill toward the road.

“Hey, when are you leaving?”
he called out to me.
“Right now,” I said. “I’m going right now.”
“Have a good flight.”

I started to walk away when
I had the urge to turn back and say,
“Thank you for talking to me.”

“You’re welcome,” he said with a wave,
and then turned back to the river
where my gaze followed
to take in the shape of this new friend,
sitting on top of a picnic table
with his back to me,
looking out onto the water
the way I often do,

appreciating the ebb and flow,
stillness and movement,
the gift of conversation,

and the thought,
“Perhaps I am weary.”