on my way to lunch I run into some friends
who lately haven’t been including me in much
one asks me why Cadence missed class that morning
and I say I don’t know, and I don’t
then I begin hoping that she and her bicycle are okay.
I talk to them for a moment and keep walking
Raymond Carver under my arm
breeze of Burlington still in my ears
—I could walk all day and walk all night up & down streets like that—
I got some food and sit down
alone at a table.
whenever I have a free moment to think
I think of Cadence
and it—she—brings me instantly to terms with a lack of importance
and an appreciation of the short-term.
come to think of it I hadn’t seen her since this morning, neither had her classmates
and again I start thinking about her bicycle
long white and slender, too small for me
and I hope she’s okay.
I sit at the table and don’t speak to anyone
am told stories the whole time I am there
about this and that, things I’ve done before
but never so specifically
crumbs of a baked potato showing up proudly against my black shirt
water glass suddenly nearly empty
—where was Cadence—
think too much and you’ll go insane, I tell myself,
then go back to everything else.
getting up I recognize lots of people but don’t say hello
I finish the water lazily then pile it all onto my plate
I see people outside smoking cigarettes and don’t understand why
walk on and on in subconscious reassurance
lean into the door for what seems like forever and push it open
walk and walk—the hallways are so long here—
still no sign of Cadence, but that’s okay for now
For now the task is to find an ocean
and jump into it