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Across the Street
by LB Williams

Reading Yeats in the New York Public
library across the street from concrete lions
bordering stairs where the homeless,
student scholars, unemployed bankers and lenders,
the newly evicted ones and shelter goers,
where the dissertation doers and the high schoolers
getting homework done all sit round a square table
in the afternoon beside me, where I see
a shadow or apparition, call it a vision,
first guy I ever slept with in front of me.
He looks really bad, says, "I've been wanting
to tell you I'm sorry. All these years I thought
I ruined your life. You were only fourteen."
He was eighteen then with nibbled down nails.
After that night I had to wait twenty years
to see him rise out of my past. His pants
are dirty, eyes swollen. He talks fast.
Later returning home on Fifth Avenue,
past high heels, suitcases, wet faces
on streets, I understand finally Yeats,
his dolphin-torn, gong tormented sea.


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