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Nels Hanson

The Stranger

I hear sudden footsteps in this dark 
walk the asphalt road and I follow


past the murmur of waking doves,
listening plum trees, hungry coyote’s 

ancient plea. “Where are you?” I ask 
as silver clouds muffle the half moon,

stars shine harder but too dimly to light 
a shoulder or cast a shadow of the one 

I pursue, woman or man? All is still 
for short breath, the other still as if


waiting, now familiar echo’s quick 
return, near, nearer, advancing my 

way to meet. I stand on a white line, 
new breeze rising with the lost scent 

of peach blossoms and pump water. 
A blurred something passes through 

my chest, night wind parting curtain, 
left of the heart as the walker’s steps


retreat. I turn running, calling “Wait!” 
into the pale moonlight’s last chance 

before the stranger vanishes forever, no 
gesture, whispered word or blessing,

leaving only this growing vacancy,
the painless wound something left. 

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