Outside the condo window, a sandhill crane
looks down its beak at the estuary’s small waves
the way the clerk at the outlet store
examined color-coded buttons on the register
instead of my friend Ian sliding a silk sweater
across the white counter.
Inside that moment
a silence froze for weeks at the spot on Ian’s arm,
just above his watch, where the clerk’s fingertips
brushed too briefly to deserve the hours Ian went on
about it. His patient listener, I denied knowing
whether he should have asked a phone number
Or chatted or done a million tiny things.
But now the loneliness of the crane
seems like something the clerk could have solved.
I am almost paralyzed by how little it meant,
or the quick jabs the crane makes into its reflection
mean. In the parking lot the license plates fell
from elsewhere and their college students
stepped handsomely from convertibles,
the gulf beyond them bluely cold.