Left to itself, setting is the chance that
something good might happen. A highway runs the
length of the peninsula. The suburbs overlap.
She lived in one of them and took around with her
her setting. Shops and houses, luminous spring lawns,
streets that led off to places she’d speak French.
Unpunctured by the phrase “One evening” or “One fine day,”
her setting promised it would yield the longed-for.
We met one evening at church, but the adjacent
back yards, the balm of their untold repository
waiting in the dark as, introduced, we
looked at one another, looked away. 1964,
November, but the earth, its different settings for
still other stories, its planes of lines extending and
reversible at any point. Saltflats. An abandoned
tinker’s van in a swampy field. The wooded island
upstream from the bridge, the one down.
Nor was it even then too late. I was the
married, reliable sponsor to her youth group,
I had to keep it to myself. But what if she weren’t
there again for a third straight week? I should
want her not to be there. Love meant wanting her to be
comely, prized and occupied, light-spirited, it meant
wanting her not to want me. Another Sunday and she
wasn’t there. If I told her, would she want me then?
I couldn’t tell her, couldn’t not, and did.