It Will Not Do

Afternoon hours linger too bright
here near the river away from where
I walked through woods and misted night
not knowing what I’d find there

but hoping as now for a look
at her, though circled by her friends.
Alone would be too much; that took
all the manners the fool pretends

not to blurt an unseemly word
unjustified by short acquaintance—
to take her hand or some absurd
gesture of sudden dependence.

Yet if I went back I might tell
a different end to the story,
for not behaving half so well
could not leave me half so sorry.

M. A. Schaffner has work recently published or forthcoming in The Hollins Critic, Magma, Tulane Review, Gargoyle, and The Delinquent. Other writings include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels, and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia or the 19th century.