I agreed to meet, could not refuse
again. After a few reminders
of what we'd done we came to talk
of those we knew best now,
who meant nothing to the other
but were all we had to say
and as we spoke your frame
shrank inside your coat
as if being alive had slowly
worn you out.

We told our stories until
none were left, on parting
that strange awareness came
never again and sensing
what never meant, as if
we'd met in a desert, talked
then separated, taking
opposite ways without
a compass or a map
but knowing why
we had to go and where
our feet would lead.

I am sorry you had to tell
your child that you would live
and your wife would die.
I am sorry I did not know you
another stranger waiting
in the underground's mouth,
when I looked I did not see
the boy I knew, and I am sorry
I was not the one that you
felt sure you could
give my name to.