Tree branches bowed under the weight of the snow,
like penitents kneeling, as Christmas shoppers
reveled in the joy of the season.
I left the house and struggled through the snow-clogged streets
to meet a man I hadn't seen in years.
He was the model of discretion then, a confidant.
I could always count on his fidelity and trust.
I shivered, pulled the scarf more tightly round my neck,
and pushed my way through the milling crowds
to await his arrival. And there he was.
The old familiar shambling gait,
the oft-worn brown fedora perched upon his head,
and suddenly I felt better.
I chose a dimly lighted tavern.
We ordered drinks and dinner; linguini and shrimp,
a dish for which we shared a common relish.
Our conversation was tentative at first,
until the effects of the alcohol loosened our tongues,
and we talked of Oxford, days full of happy memories.
But later, as the evening wore on and the tavern's
customers left with errands of their own, we were left alone.
Silence descended. Thoughts of earlier in the day
came crashing down upon me.
He sensed something was wrong, as he always did.
"She left me," I blurted out, sobbing uncontrollably.
He said nothing, and gently squeezed my hand.