All that first Fall at college
they were everywhere together
heads bent over coffee and textbooks
their breakfast eggs growing cold
before they dashed off
to the same 8:25 Art of the Middle Ages class.
I watched them on Tuesday and Thursday
afternoon, when I worked in the library.
They’d be at the same hidden table
behind the fiction stacks,
in the quiet of the history section.
I’d pass by with my cart,
reshelving early English poetry
and biographies of founding fathers.
I’d startled them once, flipping on the lights.
They’d been staring together out the window
at the stand of birch that caught the last of the afternoon sun,
unaware at how dark the room had grown.
They had come here together,
rumor had it,
from the same brick-built river town,
from quiet families
behind iron railings.
But no one really knew.
All those months of falling leaves,
into the bare November
and the wet wool of December,
they held fast.
We’d see them
as we came and went to town,
always on the same bench
overlooking the dark river below.
Their quiet conversation stopped
to greet us politely,
our noise suddenly stilled
as we came upon them.
They were too dignified
for us to make up too many stories about.
The only one that seemed at all true
was that they were royalty
from a small country
between Europe and Asia
that no longer existed.
Marjorie and I
were the last to see them.
(They never came back.)
We were walking back to the dorm
to pack for the train ride home.
They were waiting,
in matching cashmere coats,
on the other side of the street,
under the portico
of the recital hall
with their monogrammed suitcases.
A black car drove up to them.
And then drove away
down the dark wet street.
-Copyright Kay Winter