It had been thirty-three years
But I knew her the moment I saw her
She had changed, of course
So much so, that I am now surprised that
My recognition of her was so immediate and sure.
I was in western Virginia (her part of the world)
Traveling between sales calls
And I stopped at a coffee bar where I knew I could
Get just what I wanted, just the way I wanted it
While I was standing in line there
I saw her
She was sitting at a high table
I don’t know whether she saw me first
But she did not let on
I knew her from her blue, blue eyes
And the smile and the tilted head
Like she suspected you of something
Not quite right but forgivable.
She was a horse-woman in her day
The day I knew her
Her family was on the edge of being cash-poor then
But owned, free and clear, ten-thousand acres of the best farmland in the state
Mountain meadows and pastures, a stable full of horses.
The Cowpasture River ran through their estate
At fifteen, she was bored with rural life and already looking for a way out
At eighteen I was on the rebound from what I then thought unjust treatment
By some high-school beauty
And so the two of us hoped in each other
We wrote letters my first two years of college
Then way led on to way.
I did not even speak to her
There with someone who might have been her husband
I walked past her without acknowledgement.
But I know she knew me
And I would have sensed her in the place
Even if I had been blind.