Final Encounter

		I wait like a beggar, with hands outstretched,
		While crowds flow by in holiday clothes.
		Faces with polite smiles turn, stare blankly,
		Sweep past, not seeing the clutched and tattered rose.

		I wait with silent, imploring gaze,
		My once-bright gift still held high,
		But the arms tire at last, the hands fall limp,
		The flower dangles, its petals dry.

		And then, when hope is nearly dead,
		I look up, find one standing there,
		Seeking beyond my tired eyes
		The child within: defenseless, bare.

		Then I brighten, straighten my tired back,
		Wipe away my silly, false painted grin.
		The face is pale and calm and kind,
		A fellow searcher, alive within.

		Perhaps this is whom I seek:
		A friend, a lover, for a while.
		I raise my hands in joy again,
		Hold out the rose with trembling smile.

		The other examines my dusty gift,
		Looks up with mute apology, turns, moves on.
		I yearn to reach, to catch, to hold,
		But fear to tear one so frail, so wan.

		The promise passes, forever unfulfilled;
		I'll wonder always what will never be born,
		While the rose drops forgotten to the frozen ground:
		New-reddened from too close-clenched thorn.

copyright 1983 by Brian K. Crawford