Some women are all the women
you’ve ever loved at once. Somewhere else
a man chases her image with a can
of orange spray paint. Evening has already
happened. He shades the almost-
touching, half-formed hands of Matisse’s dancers
onto the side of the train, and her light
is different now, though he knows this is not possible,
not really. Light does not change, just gets lost
inside the greater thing. And if he could go back
it wouldn’t be to the hospital
where the sun forked through the space
his body left as he turned out of the room,
or the first kiss, but farther still, to the moment
just before, looking out at the pond in muzzled
autumn, the fish curving on the cusp
of emergency, all those rivers mapped inside them.
And they’d watch quietly until sundown, because he doesn’t
do this work for forgiveness, but because the fact
of grace disgusts him.

He knows this much:
It was winter. Her hair was thinning. After,
for a while, it is winter all the time.

Carlie Hoffman