Once, in a tenuous conversation,
A woman I had hoped to fall in love with turned to me
With great physical expression
And gasped, “Oh God, we aren’t reduced
To talking about the weather, are we?”

This memory returned to me
As I walked through the grandstand tunnel
Out into the open air near the edge of the track
In view of the jockeys and horses
Ahead of the gates and the grass of the infield

Afternoons at the track always feel like playing hooky
Harmless disobedience, hours dedicated to being unproductive
But it was the weather, the bright blue of the sky
The sunny warmth rising stilly from us
And the slight breezes animating the planter boxes of roses

That gave permission
The weather provides the pass
It allows a day at the track
The way rainy days give permission to schoolboys
To daydream out the window

The teacher’s drone dissolving into the background
Or the way the first snow collects on the treetops
To give permission to abandon your work
To not return calls
And not check the mail

That night of the big thunderstorm, the lightning strikes close
Counting the one one-thousands
How close we stood together watching during this moment of weather
Everything else left aside, the storm demanding full attendance
We smiled in our tentative togetherness

Yes, the weather reduces us,
To our quintessence
The way we kicked piles of fallen leaves
Walking home from school hurriedly
Our breath showing in the snapped air