He crosses the ferry from Paumanok to Connecticut

then rides north by carriage, for three hours,

just to meet her in an inn south of Amherst

where no one knows her face.

She’s wearing a deep red cloak

over her white dress and sits down

breathlessly at the table by the papered wall,

shakes off the red hood and whispers to the bearded man,

his boots dripping onto the flowered carpet

that only poetry could have called her

from her task of circumference. “I tell people

I’ve never read you,” she says, “But

have heard you’re scandalous. Of course

that’s just an artifice I use to be left

to my own devices.’ She chatters on

unable after such a long silence to control

the flow, except when she is forced

to breathe. She knows his trains,

his spiders, his ardor for strangers. And he

knows her but not her words other than those

she sent him in her strange script, “Wild

Nights.” He does not refer to it because

she seems to be so shy and instead offers

her a drop of dandelion wine. “Inebriate of air

am I,” she lowers her eyes and makes to leave.

“Before we part,” he says, “Let me ask

that photographer in the courtyard

to make a study of us together. It will be

a moment of eternity.” She smiles, drops

her eyes. “I have another pressing destiny.

The carriage outside is kindly waiting, but has

kindly stopped for me.”