Sitting Alone Like That

Antigone, Anouilh

When I see a girl, a young woman alone,
one who walks alone, even in a crowd,
I think of Bea, her short hair darting
every which way, the way she walked, he feet
disconnected from the rest of her,
headed across the cafeteria towards the coffee pots.
Once, I turned to another student and said,
"Boy, she looks like she's on the verge."
But I was only joking:
I knew her to be a brilliant, eccentric type,
though over the semester
I'd only bumped into her in a vague,
"Oh, I see you're reading Sartre," sort of way.
Then one day she told me she was going home.
The psychiatrist at the college recommended it.
I got a letter around Easter inviting me to visit
her mother and her on Roosevelt Island.
I made some excuse, worried she might consider me
a close friend. Sometimes, though, I've wondered
what I might have learned sitting with Bea
among those tall, ghostly buildings
surrounded by water.

Priscilla Atkins