Close Encounter

Poem by Timothy Steele

The curled, dry leaf pursued her up the street,

Tumbling and skidding on the walk, as though

It had some urgent business with her feet

Or problem whose solution she might know.

And so she stopped and turned. It stopped as well.

Yet now that they were standing face to face

(Or face to leaf) it looked too shy to tell

Why, when she’d passed it, it had given chase.

In fact, perched on its lobes, it seemed to be

A mini-spacecraft hoping to explore

Her planet and now realizing she

Was not the earthling it was looking for.

A warm gust caught the leaf and helped it swoop

And twirl across the street to interview

A spike-haired girl who, smoking on a stoop,

Wore a black tank top and arm-length tattoo.

The woman saw no point in feeling jilted:

She knew that naughty youth has its appeals.

A father in a nearby crosswalk tilted

A stroller so the curb received the wheels.

A block away, a bus went barreling past,

Her bus. No matter: she could catch the next.

Meanwhile, she had her cell phone and a vast

Cosmos of friends and colleagues she could text.


American Arts Quarterly, Summer 2012, Volume 29, Number 3