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Still Waiting by Mary Anna Kruch

I.

When I walked to our meeting place

to wait for you by the river,

it was another 70s evening

for girls with flowers in their hair

and boys lucky enough to snag deferments

or low lottery numbers.


Students strolled by in a restless shuffle

back to dorms for dinner.

Light grew dim, and I waited.


Night classes stirred sandals

into a growing hustle

past the peace sign on the big rock,

past the tents in People’s Park.

Still, I waited.


Guitars strummed; leaflets and weed were offered.

A boisterous group with signs

marched to Beaumont Tower.

They had no problem speaking their minds.


But you did.


II.

I thought back to a night

soon after we met.

We sat up until 4 a.m.

under a faint, blue light on your bed

where you spilled what guts you did not lose

on the front lines.

You spoke of women and children—

huts you would not set ablaze,

the surprise attack,

and the men in your company

who were gone—while you lived on.


The war took so much more than your body—

for a time, it took your voice.

As I dared to reveal myself,

you held me at a distance,

masking your face,

closing me out of all

but the most required talk.


Did I misjudge you?

Expect too much?

Push too hard?

I was aware of my naivety;

you who had breathed death.


III.

Still, in the beginning

you had agreed

to walk and talk and just be together.

So I resolved to be patient,

to hold my peace

to give you room

to move beyond my need

to know your mind.


So I waited at our meeting place.

You did not see me

waiting for you by the river.

An hour went by—

and then another.


When at last your headlights

came into view,

you drove right past

without a look in my direction.

Why couldn’t you see me

waiting for you by the river?


Branches whispered, entwined

over slow, black water.

The breeze kicked up,

grew cold.


IV.

We are better now.

I learned to leave you alone

in your dark moods,

and we don’t always talk with words.


At the river, we did not know

the depth of Agent Orange’s

destruction:

leukemia.

Now, infusions restore some lost power;

you stand tall in the growth of our landscape.

Dark times are rare.


Nonetheless, years later

I pass that place and remember

the fear the hurt the dread

as crowds of students still head to class,

still gather at Beaumont Tower,

still form a never-ending flow.


I wanted to talk, but you didn’t.

See me.

I am still here,

will always be here,

waiting for you.


Mary Anna Kruch is a career educator and writer. She has published a textbook, Tend Your Garden: Nurturing Motivation in Young Adolescent Writers (Shefield, UK: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2012), along with several professional papers. She supervises student teachers for a state univeristy and leads Williamston Community Writers. Her poetry appears in The Remembered Arts Journal, River Poets Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Edition 3, The Safe Place, and Credo Espoir. Her first poetry collection, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky, will be published by Finishing Line Press in Summer 2019.

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