nothingness.org

Paths Diverging

Published in Everyone's a fucking poet! 1995


"Could we walk to the end of the road," she asked,
"until there's a fork, and two paths diverging?
I will go left, and you will go right, and if 
what they say is true, we'll meet again, eventually,
somewhere, if not back at that very same spot."

We aren't walking anywhere, I thought, or,
if we are, it's only in very tight circles, and
centrifugal force will only throw us far away
as soon as we let go of each other's hands.
I couldn't bear the thought. "Couldn't we,"
I stammered, "just keep going for a while,
to see how things work out. The fork in the road,
you know, is where the map ends."
But the sweat on my palms was already
taking its effect. Our fingers were slowly
sliding across one another; I felt myself
being drawn to the periphery of my world.

The hours she'd spent sketching meaningless diagrams
and computations on the back of shopping lists
finally made sense. She knew what the future 
would hold, had calculated the trajectory of 
our lonely arcs, whose endpoints were death,
the starting points of new lines.

She, the geometer, me, I could ride a bicycle
but couldn't describe the infinitely complex
relations of movement that made it all possible.
We were destined to go. I pedalled so fast
I couldn't keep up and the wheels kept spinning
and the pedals went around faster and faster
and my legs were silly victims of a process
I didn't understand.

 

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